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Organics are on the government's menu

17 October 2005

Organics are on the government's menu

Organic farming will get a boost thanks to the Green Party and the cooperation agreement it has negotiated with the government.

The government has committed to working with the Greens to provide better support for organic farmers through increased funding for advisory services, Green Party Organics Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

The enhanced support should include financial and other assistance to enable mentoring of new organic farmers by experienced one, education, research and advocacy services.

"Compared to other OECD countries, we provide woefully inadequate support to our organics industry. It's no wonder it still makes up less than 1 percent of our total agricultural output, compared to countries like Sweden where 19 percent of their agriculture is organic. The Dutch government, for example, recently announced plans to invest EUR61 million to increase the area under organic farming in the next five years from 2.1 percent (at present) to 10 percent by 2010.

"There is enormous potential for growth and innovation in the sector and its crucial that government assists the sector to achieve its potential. We see the enhanced advisory services as the first small step in the provision of a much greater level of support for the sector," she says.

Sales of organic food have surged by 10 percent in 2004 in the UK including a 25 percent increase in organic milk sales and have increased 10-fold over the last decade.

"New Zealand needs to capitalise on this growing niche market."

"There are huge environmental savings from organic agriculture and providing incentives to farmers to adopt sustainable and organic techniques makes sense and will be of great benefit to our economy, our environment and our future.

"We hope the advisory service will be a first step in helping to make this happen," Ms Kedgley says.

ENDS

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