DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES ORGANIC AGRICULTURE NOTES
Mr IAN COHEN:
My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industries. Has the Department of Primary Industries produced an agriculture note to help macadamia growers go organic after his department was inundated with requests for help? How many macadamia farmers are in the process of converting to organic growing and how are departmental officers assisting them? Is the department preparing other agriculture notes to help growers of other produce convert to organic growing? Can the Minister inform the House what these notes are and when they will be available?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD:
As to the last part of Mr Ian Cohen's question, I do not have the program for the preparation of agriculture notes. As Mr Ian Cohen pointed out, these notes are useful and assist many farmers, particularly with newer crop types. We are doing a lot more work on organics, as Mr Ian Cohen knows. We have formed the Organic Ministerial Advisory Council, which is networking our activities in the Department of Primary Industries to ensure that the organic industries receive far more attention. They are important niche markets that the farming community must supply. Some extensive premiums can be sought and gained by farmers who are prepared to go organic and engage in the significant range of enhanced activities that will give them certification. The council is backed by the establishment of our Centre for Organic Farming at Bathurst, where we propose to produce organic wines. Given the great interest that many people have in organic wines the department has been upgrading its efforts in the organics area, and that is one of our many activities. I thank Mr Ian Cohen for his question and assure him that we will be producing more agriculture notes on organics about which I will give him an outline in the near future.