This article is by Vanessa Lahey and originally appeared in the The Macleay Argus
(Photo: Organic Marketing Company Director Sally Ayre-Smith, National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Operations Manager Peter Hastie, FigTrees Organic Farms General Manager Glenn Morris and North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian Ian Poe)>
The Macleay Valley is quietly shaping-up to be an integral player in the organic industry boom. And it’s a direction that could bring with it enduring economic,employment and environmental benefits for generations to come.
Championing the cause is a group of industry bodies in partnership with Kempsey Shire Council, which hopes to leverage the valley’s agricultural potential through education and the creation of business and investment opportunities.
Unlocking Local Beef Dollars was the topic for this week’s workshop ‘demystifying organic beef opportunities and certification’.
This was the fourth in a series of agribusiness workshops sponsored by the Macleay Valley Food Bowl initiative.
Presenters from the Organic Marketing Company, National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, organic beef farms and a local veterinary surgery provided an overview of the organic beef industry, production methods and the steps required to becoming a certified organic producer.
According to Organic Marketing Company Director Sally Ayre-Smith, there is a huge demand for organic beef which far outweighs supply. Ms Ayre-Smith, who is also a local organic garlic grower, believes the Macleay Valley could become a major organic agricultural centre.
“Kempsey is an ideal location for the proposed purpose-built distribution centre given its location halfway between Sydney and Brisbane and easy access to the Pacific Highway.”
Statistics presented at the workshop indicated that organic produce is currently worth around $1.8 billion to the Australian economy.
There are currently 271 certified organic businesses operating on the Mid North Coast, a figure which the council hopes to see increase.