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Sustainable Farming Fund Grants - Organic Projects

Sustainable Farming Fund Grants To Organic Projects

Organic agriculture projects have been picked to receive almost $1 million of funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

These projects were strongly aligned with the $620,000 of organics work programme funded through Vote Agriculture in the past two Budgets, he said.

Mr Sutton said that, as well as the eight projects being run by organic agriculture organisations, the Sustainable Farming Fund was also supporting many other projects which used agricultural methods that could be compatible with organic farming practices.

"Organic agriculture is a significant and growing niche sector in New Zealand primary production."

Mr Sutton said that, to date, 119 projects, providing $13.7 million in grant assistance had been approved that collectively target improved product quality and provide for food safety and market assurance, while also addressing profitability and environmental performance issues.

"Projects teams, throughout the country and involving the broad range of the land based productive sectors, are working hard to deliver results that will then become available to any New Zealander to access and apply."

Mr Sutton said economic, social, and environmental sustainability was vital for all New Zealand primary production.

Protectionist feelings were rising in some of our key export markets, he said, and farmers needed to ensure they were doing everything possible to ensure they would continue to have markets for their products by keeping a close watch on what consumers in their markets wanted.

"For a small but significant number of farmers here, that means maintaining clear organic systems. For other farmers, it means continuing to upgrade their farming systems, reducing chemical use and other environmental issues."

Mr Sutton said he had recently been quoted out of context by a foreign journalist, which had led to some New Zealanders believing he was attacking organic producers.

This was not so, and his financial support for development and expansion of the domestic organic industry demonstrated this.

Mr Sutton said what he was concerned about was maintaining New Zealand's international reputation for food safety and, at the same time, to encourage people within New Zealand to improve their own food handling, storage, and preparation habits.

"The message I had been trying to get across was that food safety is important for all consumers ? not just the consumers of organic food.

"Conventional food can be contaminated by poor handling and storage methods. So can organic food. This should be not taken as a criticism of organic food or organic food producers. I am very proud of New Zealand farmers and their products."

Ends

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