Industry growth stymied by confusion of consumers
By Shan Goodwin
Ridding his fences of weeds with a brush hook is a twoweek job for Alstonville fruit and vegetable grower Dave Roby. If he used Roundup it would take three hours.
For 15 years Dave has been willing to put in the extra effort it takes to be an organic farmer because he is committed to the philosophy, and because people are willing to pay a premium for food produced without the use of chemicals and fertilisers.
The Northern Rivers, with 300 farmers and its extensive market system, is the booming centre of Australia's organics.
But organic farmers say the growth of their industry is being threatened by the difficulty consumers have in knowing what they are buying is genuinely organic.
They are telling people to look for the certification.
"There are three organisations which certify organic farmers: The National Association of Sustainable Agriculture in Australia (NASAA), Australian Certified Organic (ACO), and Organic Growers of Australia (OGA). People should check for the logo of one of those organisations," Mr Roby said.
Often farmers at markets may advertise that they 'grow organically' or are 'spray-free', which does not mean they are certified organic farmers.
Mr Roby said organic farmers go through a rigorous process which, with some crops, can take up to four years to become certified.
"Conventional farming is designed to fit an economic system, not the environmental system," he said. "Organic farmers are looking after our grandchildren's future."