Organic and bio-dynamic goods

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Our role

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) is the Australian government authority responsible for certifying Australian food and agricultural exports (conventional, certified organic and bio-dynamic). The department provides export certification and declarations in-line with Australia’s export legislation and importing country requirements. The department regulates to assure our trading partners that our goods are safe to import, including that claims made about certified organic/bio-dynamic goods are accurate.

Additional certification requirement: the organic goods certificate

Goods labelled as organic, bio-dynamic, or similarly labelled, which are exported from Australia must be certified by an approved certifying body and accompanied by the department’s organic goods certificate (OGC). This is a legal export requirement set out in the Export Control (Organic Goods) Rules 2021.

The OGC demonstrates that Australian organic and bio-dynamic goods have been subject to a regulatory system that guarantees the organic and bio-dynamic production system underpinning the organic and bio-dynamic claims. In addition to the OGC, all other standard exporting requirements apply (including health, safety, and biosecurity requirements).

The framework

The legal and policy framework for organic exports provides the basis for evaluating and determining the organic and bio‑dynamic status of operators (producers, processors, handlers, storage and transportation, and exporters) and whether an OGC can be issued.
The organic export regulatory framework is made up of:

Legislation

The Export Control (Organic Goods) Rules 2021 enable the department to assess organic certifiers and formally recognise them as approved certifying bodies. Once formally recognised, they may perform the following functions on the department’s behalf:

  • assess organic and bio-dynamic operators to determine compliance to the National Standard and importing country requirements
  • certify the production systems, controls, and operations of an operator as organic/bio-dynamic, and recognise this status through certification of the operations. Certification is based on at least an annual audit of all systems, the operator’s Organic/Bio-Dynamic Management and/or Handling Plan, unannounced audits, and sample testing
  • issue organic goods certificates to facilitate the export of organic and bio-dynamic goods.

Organic export technical standard

The National Standard for Organic and Bio-dynamic Produce is Australia’s organic technical export standard, owned by the department and providing the basis for equivalence (government-to-government) arrangements with trading partners. The standard stipulates requirements for goods with labelling which states or implies they have been produced under organic or bio-dynamic systems. The standard covers production, processing, storage, transportation, labelling and importation.

The department’s Organic Exports Program

The department maintains an Organic Exports Program to enforce regulation and protect Australia’s trading reputation through:

  • maintaining Australia’s organic export regulatory framework, covering legislation, policy settings, and the mandatory standard used to certify exported goods and their production systems
  • approving organic certifiers with relevant expertise to provide certification and inspection functions on the department’s behalf, including approval of their certification systems against the required standard
  • regulating, investigating, and enforcing compliance through regular checks, ongoing monitoring, investigating concerns, potential breaches or irregularities, and taking action where required
  • auditing, at least annually, approved certifying bodies, including witness audits and full compliance checks, informed by risk analysis
  • conducting random audits of approved certifying bodies
  • providing advice and notices to industry on known or emerging issues, including changed importing country requirements
  • reporting on our activities to our trading partners as required by our government-to-government or equivalence arrangements

Australia’s organic export credentials

Australia’s organic export standard is internationally recognised and widely accepted. Australia has government-to-government (equivalence) arrangements with various countries, including the European Union, Japan and Taiwan.

More information on these arrangements, including eligible and ineligible goods, is available on the department’s website.

In addition to the department’s audit and approval, approved certifying bodies are third-party accredited:

  • some approved certifying bodies are accredited by IOAS using certification standard ISO/IEC 17065 to assess against Australia’s export organic standard
  • some approved certification bodies also hold IFOAM accreditation. IFOAM is a global organic organisation working towards international requirements for organic standards.

Why import Australian organic and bio-dynamic goods?

Australia offers:

  • high-quality organic and bio-dynamic goods, underpinned by a strong regulatory framework
  • a wide variety and significant quantities of organic and bio-dynamic raw ingredients, offering significant value-adding opportunities
  • a counter-seasonal supply to the northern hemisphere
  • unique organic and bio-dynamic ingredients which allow for the creation of new and innovative organic and bio-dynamic goods for overseas consumers.

What is bio-dynamic?

For a product to be produced and certified as ‘bio-dynamic’ the product must be organic as well as meet additional production requirements as set out in section 1.25 of the National Standard.

Last reviewed: 1 April 2021
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