The Organic Federation of Australia has launched the Environmental Research and Education Trust to support development of organic agriculture in Australia. Professor Peter Cornish, Chair of the Trust, explains “The aim is to attract sound investment into scientific research and education relevant to organic and bio-dynamic management systems and marketing”. He continues: “In order to fully capitalize on this strongly increasing global demand, Australia needs to invest in research and education to help develop cost-effective organic food supply chains that are in tune with our unique environment, deliver high quality food products and ingredients, and provide farmers with decent livelihoods." He adds that R & D investment in Australia is lagging well behind other countries.
As consumers and society in general seek improved health, environmental and animal welfare outcomes from the food system, an increasing awareness of the benefits of organic farming is helping drive the market for organic food and fibre, in Australia and overseas, according to Andre Leu, Chair of the OFA. “The OFA Organic Trust will help Australia to become a significant world organic food supplier by targeting research and education programs that address challenges to Australian organic food and farming systems development. Investments in the Trust will accelerate the development and uptake of organic farming practices, thereby underpinning the long-term sustainability of Australia’s food production systems.”
Highly qualified and respected Trustees will guarantee rigorous and independent allocation of donations in the future. The Trustees include: Prof. Peter Cornish (Chair), a specialist in farming systems at UWS; The Hon. John Kerin, CSIRO Board, Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Chair of the Board of Poultry CRC, and former Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industries; Dr Helen Scott-Orr, Veterinary and agricultural research management consultant, former Director, NSW Department of Primary Industries; Mr Terry Hehir, Organic dairy farmer, Chair Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia, Nuffield Scholar; and Dr Paul Kristiansen, lecturer at UNE in Agricultural Systems. The Trust was launched at two functions with guest speaker Katherine DiMatteo, President of the International Federation of Organic Movements and force behind the multi-billion dollar US organic industry. She was the Executive Director of the USA Organic Trade Association from 1990 to 2006, during which the OTA was instrumental in developing the organic industry in the USA to become the second largest organic market in the world, expanding to a multi-billion dollar professional industry.