New Zealand’s Organic Products Bill passed its first reading on Thursday 19 March 2020 with full support from all political parties. This signals the advancement of the Bill to the select committee stage where the details and impacts of the Bill and its pending regulations will be scrutinised through public submissions and expert engagement.

The objectives of this Bill are to increase consumer confidence in purchasing organic products, increase certainty for businesses making claims that their products are organic, and facilitate international trade in organic products.

Organic, once considered fringe in the eyes of many Members of Parliament, has come a long way in two decades. Of the MPs who spoke in support of the Bill, both National Party’s Barbara Kruger and David Bennett, who is also the Primary Select Committee Chairman, are certified organic dairy farmers. All members acknowledged that certified organic offered real market advantage, wider environmental opportunities and required a single national standard to provide consistency and benefit to New Zealand.

The Minister of Agriculture Hon Damien O’Connor, acknowledged two previous Green MPs; the late Jeannette Fitzsimons for her consistency and Steffan Browning for being persistent. He also spoke of his own engagement with organic for two decades and acknowledged it has taken too long to bring the Bill to parliament.

“We have as government, a commitment to try and turn our farmers to not only be the best farmers in the world, but for the world. A single organic standard that has integrity, is consistent and backs up their efforts is one major step forward in the process.  It will make sure they have enduring and sustainable farming systems that give them returns for their efforts, protect the environment and make sure we can play our part in feeding the world.” Hon. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture said during his address.

“This is another major welcomed milestone for the organic sector.” Brendan Hoare Managing Director of Buy Pure New Zealand said. “We have a dedicated government as well as a united parliament and organic sector. As someone who has been instrumental from the inception in bringing this to fruition, I look forward to continuing to work with the whole organic sector across the entire supply chain and government to bring this to life and realise what is best for Aotearoa New Zealand.”