Sue Kedgley
Organics industry growth in jeopardy

In the 2005 cooperation agreement between the Green Party and the previous Labour-led government, we negotiated funding for an Organics Advisory Service (OAS). It included mentoring support for conversion to organics and peer support for organic farmers.

Unfortunately, after three years of successful service to the organics sector, the modest $2.15 million funding has now run out, and the National government has not provided any further funding for the OAS. Was it money well spent, and what does the future hold for the sector?

In 2005, the area of NZ land under organic production was 45,000ha. By 2007, this had increased to 65,000ha – that’s over 20% growth a year. The 2008 figures have yet to be compiled, but Biogro alone certifies 65,000ha, and to that we can add organic land certified by the other 3 certifiers AsureQualityOrganicFarmNZ and Demeter. As a proportion of total agricultural land, NZ still lags well behind European countries, but the sector in NZ is certainly a fast growing one.

A 2007 study into the value of the organics sector to the NZ economy found that it generated $120million domestically, and $210million in exports, per year. And that doesn’t include the ecosystem services that an organic farm provides – more soil carbon retained, cleaner water and more biodiversity.

In the pipfruit sector, 10% of production by volume is organic. But this equates to 15% of the pipfruit sector by value because of the price premium (33%) commanded by organic pipfruit.

Organic sheep and beef meat also gets a strong premium, helping organic farmers through a time of low prices and droughts. Apparently, 20% of organic lamb on sale in the UK is from NZ, and our major meat exporter Silver Fern Farms has been advertising for organic lamb suppliers. An SFF statement last year noted that their organic premiums were holding despite the recession.

Looking at the dairy industry, we find that Fonterra is unable to find enough organic milk suppliers to satisfy its demand. Fonterra says it wants to grow its number of suppliers from 80 now to 350-400 farmers by 2013.

So, the organic sector is a valuable market for NZ producers, one that commands a good premium for a high quality product, improves environmental health, and is growing rather rapidly. Indeed, the global $60 billion organics market is growing at between 10 – 20 percent annually according to Organics Aotearoa NZ.

Like all sectors, organics needs specialist advisory support to continue growing. Because it spans across most types of farming and growing, and is a production style that requires specialist experience and knowledge, it isn’t well served by the existing support bodies, although organic farmers pay the same producer levies as other farmers. Farm service and product suppliers (like fertiliser and agrichemical salespeople), who commonly offer support to conventional farmers, don’t have the experience and knowledge of organics production to do the same for organic farmers. So organic producers fall through the gaps. Hence the need for the OAS.

Without good support for farmers through an OAS, the ability for the sector to continue to expand – to provide more jobs, economic activity and a healthier environment – to meet export market demands is in jeopardy.

63 thoughts on “Organics industry growth in jeopardy

  1. “one that commands a good premium for a high quality product”

    …and thus makes buying organic food a privilege for the wealthy classes. Maybe this is the grim reality of the present economic system but why does the Green Party highlight this little contribution to social inequity?

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  2. hmm – if Fonterra wants to change to Organics they should have the money to do it – their products are no more expensive in Australia than they are here – in spite of shipping costs.
    Do they need help signing Cheques ? (rsi can be aided by thc)

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  3. A friend of mine sells health food into supermarkets in Australia and NZ.
    They looked at organic certification.
    The requirements were onerous – they added significant cost.
    Worst of all….
    They found next to no market for organics in NZ and Australia, except with a narrow band of wealthy consumers.

    And those numbers didn’t make certification worthwhile.

    This is a NZ healthfood company, producing apple based products.

    So the question is: if organics is so worthwhile, why would producers need a subsidy? Wouldn’t they just pay for the advisory services out of cashflow?

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  4. Organic producers in Brazil have generated profits adequate to help small farms transit to agriculture without chemicals. Any social phenomenon that truly delivers value should survive without doles. It may be that the demand for organic produce in New Zealand does not support new sources of supply. It would be best, in my opinion, to look to Europe to generate more demand for organic farm produce than to expect extensions of domestic government support.

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  5. Incentives for conversion to organic production greatly help over a period where produce cannot be sold as certified for a provisional period of up to 3 years. Standards are high and certification involved. Just as the cycleway is being incentivised for local and regional councils by John Key’s $50 000000, organic production in New Zealand benefits from a boost. Given that the consumption of organic food by New Zealanders will result in a reduction in the countries health bill over time, it is wise to encourage and incentivise organic production.

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  6. interesting comments: Pete, what you say is very true, and in fact, land that has been doped (ie; almost all NZ’s current farmland) can’t certifiably produce organic food as the soil structure has broken down.
    Central Tassie was clear felled and fertilized about 100 years before this happened in NZ – that land is now just rocky desert, and when I look at a lot of our own land management practices – I fear for our agricultural future.

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  7. On reflection, I am so taken by surprise by the National Government’s failure to continue to fund the Organics Advisory Service!
    National have always been vocal promoters of organic agriculture. Wasn’t it them who talked so passionately about New Zealand becoming a Organic Nation? That was inspirational and visionary! To think that they’ve slipped up on this matter of the OAS! Still, it’ll only be a matter of alerting John Key, a true environmentalist at heart and man of the people, to the oversight and he’ll put it to rights, rather than to the torch. Eh!

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  8. oh ps: people buy the cheapest foods – organics would be top sellers if they, well….that’s where the equation gets complicated; I like Key better than any other Natty PM I’ve seen – a fetching lack of arrogance which can’t be said of the last PM(s).
    Anyway – it makes for a chance to raise the whole standard of debate; why I say that is, I don’t think our current PM is in much danger of underestimating the poverty suffered by a lot of Kiwi’s – I’d bet he understands the link to Crime as well.
    We may (after a lot of Whale sightings) get the chance to turn things around – the talent is here – is the Political Will?

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  9. Greenfly, we are broke.
    And the other problem is many organic farmers are weird….really weird.
    I was talking to a friend who did a Lincoln horticulture degree, they visited an organic farm, they were put off by the “religious” aspect of it.
    Why are organics so tied to the odd and bizarre? cause it seems like such a good idea on paper then you meet the people…………… :shock:

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  10. As a family, we buy organic whenever we can. We pay a little more for it but don’t mind that and believe me we are not wealthy by any stretch. In my experience wealth has little to do with choosing to eat organic foods – it”s a philosophical thing – and I have to say that the people I know that are making the choice to eat organic tend to be the less wealthy. Sure, when you look to buy organic chicken,lamb and beef the price puts it out of reach but convention products are not far behind.
    I was excited by the governments committment to providing the organic sector with much – needed advice but thought at the time the funding level was a little light if anything Still, it was a start and to hear that there may not be any more support for this initiative is disappointing but in no way suprising.
    Conversion to organics for many conventional farms and horticultural business need not be onerous with most certifying bodies having auditors who have a good grasp of the issues – there is the paper-work but what business doesn’t have that.
    Organics is here to stay and the pioneers who have stuck with to this stage have done everyone a favour and in most cases are willing to share what they know with others so some funding to gather this information and move it on should be encouraged.

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  11. Shunda – who are broke?
    I’ve met conventional farmers who would out-weird your organic farmers any day.. nah! that’s a pointless direction to take Shunda. Here’s a challenge for you: cite some odd or bizzarre things that organics is tied to and together well have an open-minded look at them. If you’ve time, do it now, as I’m at the keyboard working for the next hour or so. Let’s not extrapolate out from single examples though, shall we, condemming the whole from the singular. (I once saw a sheep farmer pull the plug on his sheep dip straight into a river that was used by the local kids for swimming and eeling .. etc ..though I did.. weird conventional behaviours…

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  12. jimmy – your experience of who the buyers of organic food are matches mine. We run an organic food cooperative in our shop and our customers are from across the board with the majority coming from the ‘middle to the lower edges of the road’ socioeconomically. Mind you, we do not have any significant ‘markup’ on our produce and much of it has none.
    Do you get the feeling, as I do, the organic/environmental ‘layer’ of New Zealand society is getting reamed by this Government?

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  13. I guess it’s wait and see as to whether it’s a reaming greenfly – it is something that anyone involved with organics is well and truly used to by now ‘cos you know how odd and bizarre they can be.
    Providing advice is no subsidy, aren’t we supposed to be involved with a knowledge economy?

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  14. “Shunda – who are broke?”
    The country is broke (and getting broker) and once the country is totally broke the South island will be renamed “broke back mountain”

    “I’ve met conventional farmers who would out-weird your organic farmers any day”

    Well I have to give you that, I had one guy trying to tell me that Deer were actually GOOD for the bush!!! ate all the rubbish he said, to let the trees grow!!
    Perhaps I was basing a little to much on someone elses experience. Then again perhaps the lecturer was trying to disuade the students from organics by directing them to a crystal wearing strange smelling individual, full well knowing the experience would stick with them.

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  15. Shunda – (we veer off topic wildly) In today’s rag I read that DOC are not including deer in their list of pest animals for Stewart Island!!! DOC!!! Something very stinky has been creeping in there for some time now, very, very stinky (mark my words).
    As to your renaming of the South Island, it might do for the Coast, Shunda, but for the rest of us, we’ll still be riding proud in the saddle of Te Waka a Maui.
    You have pointed at a significant problem/impediment to organic agriculture though shunda – the training facilities, Agricultural Universities, lecturers, courses and so on that create a powerful anti-anything-that-isn’t-conventional-farming. Hard to battle against and I am trying on several fronts.

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  16. Shunda – it’s often the passion that organic farmers have for what they are doing that makes them a bit out there. I would have thought that Lincoln College would be the breeding ground for conventional farmers where students are exposed to the latest and greatest farming practices and perhaps a trip to an organic property is seen as something very different. I could be wrong and Lincoln make well be incorporating organics into it’s program.
    Some aspects of biodynamics take some absorbing and may seem strange but what you notice is that the end product ($) is not the only outcome that organic farmers are seeking or getting a buzz from.
    Greenfly you are right about institutions and I feel that there is a definite polarisation from both sides which is a bit isolating when really both sides have so much in common and could learn so much from one another.

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  17. “Hard to battle against and I am trying on several fronts.”

    My brother at uni refered to them as “the farm boys” aparantly there is a high likelyhood of some astonishing red neck attitudes with any of the students studying agriculture. He has told me some stories!!, some of them appear to be very proud of their ignorance.
    Seriously though, I am kind of looking for a cause at the moment, due to some unexpected and very unpleasant life developments my wife and I have been through recently.
    The problem is I cannot decide what I really want to devote myself too.
    Organics? Native restoration? Community groups I probably need some land first I guess.

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  18. jimmy – the Biological Husbandry Unit at Lincoln still exists.
    I’d protect Shunda from some of the details of Biodynamic Agriculture, at least until he has mastered ‘Getting Rid of The Lawn” – stage one in his apprenticeship toward becoming bucolic and green!

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  19. Shunda!

    Get Land!

    Grow Food! (that’s all, the rest will follow – see me for more details).

    I hope all is well for you both now.

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  20. “‘Getting Rid of The Lawn”

    What do I replace it with!!?

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  21. Actually, I do have half an acre I was thinking more like 20 though.
    I wish!!

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  22. Replace your lawn with an asset that increases with as little input as possible – allow the space work for you (and for itself at the same time.)
    Clue: not a swimming pool.

    Land costs money indeed, but there’s a lot of it around (land). There must be a way.

    Should you grow food organically? Yes.

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  23. And see how quickly fate provided you with what you desired – about 1 minute. Things are progressing well Shunda.

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  24. “1 full half acre! You’re land-rich!”

    Yeah, but most of it is covered in native plant nursery, no room for much else!!

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  25. “Replace your lawn with an asset that increases with as little input as possible”

    I have actually reduced as much as possible on my own place with native gardens, they pretty much do look after themselves.
    But on a bigger scale, like council land, don’t you have to mow?

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  26. Permaculture it. Think in layers and levels, edges, multiple functions across space (the 1/2 acre) and time (the year), plus, ‘most’ is not ‘all’.

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  27. I can see I am going to have to check this stuff out in much more detail.
    I am facinated by how soil works, Is it even possible to farm land without eventually stuffing the soil?
    I know Appletons nursery puts 1500m3 of compost into their beds every year, is this the only way to increase organic matter that farming/cropping removes?

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  28. Mowing is an ancient and honourable practice – when you use a sickle of scythe. Ditch your petrol engined tools now and feel the snick of a finely-honed blade, swathing through the grain crops you’ll soon be growing. Think poly-culture, forget mono-culture. Buy a kaftan. Better still, have your wife weave one for you.

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  29. Shunda – Is it even possible to farm land without eventually stuffing the soil?

    That’s the best and saddest question you’ve ever asked. You have lept up 10 levels in just one hour. Congratulations Grashopper.
    The answer is yes. Appleton’s solution of adding compost is not the answer. Plants + sunshine build soil.

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  30. “Buy a kaftan. Better still, have your wife weave one for you”

    Now thats the weird stuff I was talking about!! :)

    “Plants + sunshine build soil.”

    So really land MUST be laid to rest? I would imagine grass roots/leaves just gradually build up?
    I have noticed that mowing without a catcher built up about an inch of really black soil at my place over a couple of years, is that actually a net gain of carbon?

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  31. Shunda – there are a lot of things you can do beyond laying mulch. Start with legumes. Invaluable for any system. You must use them extensively; vetches, lupins, peas, beans, shrubby medicks, tree legumes like kowhai, depending on what you want to achieve over all. And grains. Experiment on any unused ground. Grow oats and rye, especially rye. See how well or not they do. As soon as you are increasing the soil volume on your land you are winning. Most land users in New Zealand are losing. It should be a criminal offence.

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  32. Another thing greenfly, I am really keen to start propagating fruit trees. I did a couple of succesful top wedge grafts of an ornamental cherry, and now I’ve got my brother interested too.
    Perhaps this is not the right forum, can I send you an email to discuss those heritage varieties you grow?. If work dosen’t pick up soon I may have time to get something moving by spring.
    I have a couple of your email address’s from a few months ago, are they still active?

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  33. Legumous green crops dug in before they get woody improve soil organic matter and can help nitrogen availability. If you are continually removing plant material from the ground without replacing it you deplete soils.
    Check out a time lapse shot of the under-storey of a forest and you will see how nature works. Leaves fall onto the ground and over time are broken down by insects, fungi, bacteria etc and everything is eventually returned to the soil. It is a closed system. Everything does it’s job. Throw acid based fertilisers on the soil and some stuff disappears – keep doing that and you then have a new system which works and is what is providing us with most of our food.
    Try growing food without artificial ferts – there’s nothing like eating food from your own garden Shunda. Oh , running naked through your broad bean crop on the full moon doubles their size ttoooo!

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  34. So jimmy, there is no way that intensive dairying can be sustainable then?
    In a farm situation would you have to lay paddocks to rest for a few years and just let the grass grow/seed etc, I suppose clover would help.

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  35. Shunda – that would be great. Trees that produce food – what a combination! It’s a booming little industry now. Check out the latest Homegrown NZ Gardener Special ‘Fruit Trees’(just published) pages 1-14 are extra good :-) By all means email. I’ll not get to it til tomorrow afternoon. though. Around these parts.. a keen grafter/nurseryman could have made a handsome profit from the demand for apples pears and plums we’ve experienced this season and it’s building fast.

    jimmy! and you reckon I’m odd! What exactly are they that have their size doubled during the moon dash?

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  36. re dairying – sabbatical fallow shunda – you’ve done the reading :-)

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  37. “Around these parts.. a keen grafter/nurseryman could have made a handsome profit from the demand for apples pears and plums”

    And they should all do well around here from what I’ve seen in the area. I’ve mainly been involved in ornamental horticulture but with the recession, perhaps it may be time to diversify to keep the family fed.
    I’ll give you an email greenfly but I’ll probably send it sometime tomorrow.
    Cheers.

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  38. “re dairying – sabbatical fallow shunda – you’ve done the reading”

    Its not such a silly book after all ;)

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  39. “Still, it’ll only be a matter of alerting John Key, a true environmentalist at heart and man of the people, to the oversight and he’ll put it to rights, rather than to the torch.”

    Ho ho.

    But with this erratic ‘subsidise this/cut back on that’ programme of the government, I can’t decide whether they are just running on a random basis (“It’s Tuesday, so we’ll subsidise this” “It’s Wednesday, so we’ll cut it”), or whether it’s the usual self-serving, “whoever is already rich gets subsidised” policy.

    Boosting parliamentary services and subsidising Bellamy’s is clearly pure hypocrisy, but are the subsidies for the tourist industry a random thing or a mark of a rich and well-organised industry?

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  40. # Shunda barunda Says:
    June 30th, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    > In a farm situation would you have to lay paddocks to rest for a few years and just let the grass grow/seed etc, I suppose clover would help.

    what if you planted a leguminous crop like soy beans, harvested the beans, then ploughed the rest of the plant into the soil?

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  41. Kahikatea – please don’t plough! Tillage farming is the root of our problems. You are on the right track though!

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  42. Jo said:

    “one that commands a good premium for a high quality product”

    …and thus makes buying organic food a privilege for the wealthy classes. Maybe this is the grim reality of the present economic system but why does the Green Party highlight this little contribution to social inequity?

    Touche! The contradictions of politics! It is socially inequitable that good food costs more. Fanta is cheaper than milk etcetera.

    Sausages, potatoes and fizz pop is the cheapest way to feed a family available.

    Micro-economic forces forces, left to their own devices (thanks to “working for families” they have not *quite* been left to their own devices) push incomes down to levels where living well is impossible for those at the bottom of the heap. A lot of people there, and they matter.

    Advocating the abolishment of capitalism just does not cut it politically.

    This is one of the central problems developing Green economic policy. What policies do we advocate to address the problem of economic forces making vast swathes of the population poor?

    It has to be made clear to the right wing lunatics that are far too close to power right now that allowing the market full sway will cause capitalism to collapse. Probably not through revolution (people full on sausages, potatoes and fizz pop are unlikely to risk it all in a revolution). The collapse of the market system would probably occur through rot – where there is not enough consumption to maintain the system to the standards the elite require. Peasant/serf societies cannot provide all the goods and services the rich want for themselves.

    Labour (hardly a party of the left any more) saw this clearly. Hence “working for families” which is a hideous scheme. An excuse for not increasing incomes/wages and perpetuating income inequalities. But it was a policy.

    I am sure that many in National see it too.

    Act are off the planet. Still stuck reading the Chicago text books from the 1970s, unaware that economics has moved on.

    Organics is necessary for maintaining the productivity of our land. Luring farmers to it with the promise of higher returns is distasteful. But it is not misleading.

    Developing an economic policy that allows access to affordable good quality food (and that policy must address both prices and incomes) is very very hard.

    Jo. I would welcome your input. Join the Green party and contribute to this policy debate.

    peace
    W

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  43. Shunda barunda asked “So jimmy, there is no way that intensive dairying can be sustainable then?
    In a farm situation would you have to lay paddocks to rest for a few years and just let the grass grow/seed etc, I suppose clover would help.”

    Actually there is a way to have intensive dairy farming without having to fallow paddocks for years. Mother Nature doesn’t resort to that method for savannah grazed by wild herds. Instead Mother Nature relies on the herds natural instincts for safety from predators to ensure that herds only breifly graze in one spot then move to another spot and that they do not return to the original grazing spot till the signs of their earlier presence have faded, thus ensuring that predators are not lying in wait.

    Farmers can adopt this same strategy by subdividing their large paddocks with hedgerows and using automated gates to allow/encourage the herd to move on after the optimum grazing time, which depends on soil moisture amongst other things. The really crucial thing is soil and microbes are given enough time to recover from each grazing and that the herd doesn’t overgraze by chewing the grass too short. With modern telemetry systems you don’t even need to employ cowboys or cowherds to get this job done.

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  44. Thanks W.,

    Is “Developing an economic policy that allows access to affordable good quality food” so hard?

    I recall from my youth (1970s) that healthy foods were usually the cheaper options. Prepackaged/highly processed foods were relatively expensive. I suspect a lot of this was cultural – I don’t think fizzy drinks were banned from supermarkets – they just weren’t there. They were things to be bought from dairies and fast-food places and drank on the spot, not to be taken home and put in the fridge. But marketing played a big role in normalising processed food (then the economies of scale took over and the prices came down while prices of other food creeped up).

    Surely there are complexities, but my main point is: Don’t normalise the free-market by praising its inequities as if they are something good. I don’t know if Sue Kedgley believes her own press releases or sees this as just a positive spin for the pro-market media or and enticement to farmers, but if she keeps writing this stuff then either she will start to believe it or others will.

    Subsidies for organic farming might be well and good, but I wonder if the Greens have decided that corollaries (such as taxing chemical fertilisers and land degradation) are too negative or unacceptable to current dominant ideologies and just not vote winners? I don’t know what Green policies are around these things, but what I hear increasingly is acceptable “greeness” in the context of free-market capitalism.

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  45. Subsidies for organic farming might be well and good,

    Better to get industrial agriculture to pay for its externalities, which would go a long long way to leveling the playing field. And price a lot of food out of the reach of many people! (Only in the short term – prices would adjust, in a free market until they were just a little bit too expensive)

    taxing chemical fertilisers and land degradation

    More or less these are Green policies.

    I don’t think fizzy drinks were banned from supermarkets

    Banning them is not feasible. Not in a free society. (HUrumph! Just how free is our society?)

    Is “Developing an economic policy that allows access to affordable good quality food” so hard?

    No, it is not. Developing one that we have a snow ball’s chance in hell of getting implemented is very hard! Politics is the art of the possible. Difficult but not impossible. If any body can do it, it will be us.

    Don’t normalise the free-market by praising its inequities as if they are something good.

    Doctrinal purity is not an option. This is the art of the possible, not activism. Free market inequities are just one sort of inequity, and they are best tackled head on, not by abolishing the free market (there is no such thing as a free market, and it is not possible to abolish markets in the medium term) but by tackling the inequities. Policies that tackle incomes and prices so that the inequities do not starve people into early onset type II diabeties!

    That is to say I can tolerate inequity. It is poverty I cannot tolerate. I do not want to be rich in a world where those who clean my drains live in poverty. This world.

    don’t know if Sue Kedgley believes her own press releases or sees this as just a positive spin for the pro-market

    That is *way* too harsh! Sue’s believes what she writes, sure. And she uses what levers that come to hand. Enticing farmers with better returns is a handy lever. The art of the possible.

    blissfully

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  46. Advocating the abolishment of capitalism just does not cut it politically.
    Advocating the retention of capitalism just does not cut it environmentally.

    Herein lies the difficulty for Green economics.

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  47. “And she uses what levers that come to hand. Enticing farmers with better returns is a handy lever. The art of the possible.”

    I am utterly terrified of people that will use any lever that comes to hand. Tony Blair comes to mind.

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  48. Advocating the abolishment of capitalism just does not cut it politically.
    Advocating the retention of capitalism just does not cut it environmentally.

    It is a good thing they are not the only two options!

    You have to get used to thinking of capitalists as an endangered minority that need to exists in a protected biosphere. That is where they belong.

    Giving free reign to capitalism and capitalist economics is poison to all living things! I find it puzzling that otherwise intelligent people raise the concept of private property ownership to some sort of deified status. It is a useful concept but where private property conflicts with social cohesion and environmental sanity, it takes a complete idiot to favour private property. But there lie them who think “economy” is synonymous with “capitalism”. We call them “capitalists”. Not many left, but those who are left are way too powerful!

    I am utterly terrified of people that will use any lever that comes to hand. Tony Blair comes to mind.

    I agree. I was careless in my language to imply that Sue K is the sort who would believe the “ends justify the means”. Which is, I think, your point. I really do not think that pointing out to farmers that they would make more money farming organically is so evil! Let’s keep our sense of proportion.

    peace
    W

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  49. “I really do not think that pointing out to farmers that they would make more money farming organically is so evil!”

    No, not evil. more like totally inappropriate.

    But I have had the goodness of premiums pointed out to me by Green Party people a few times and I’m not a farmer. They seemed to think it was a good selling point for everyone. It makes me shrink. I’m not sure who Sue is directing this piece to but it doesn’t seem to be directed to farmers. It seemed more directed to party supporters, which is why I reacted to it.

    I have had other encounters with young Greens who seemed genuinely confused when I pointed out that using market pricing mechanisms to achieve environmentally beneficial changes could be socially inequitable. It either just didn’t occur to them or they could not see that it was important, or couldn’t conceive of any other mechanism.

    I think there is a generation that have grown up post-1987 who have not experienced an time when free market economics was not normalised and have not experienced some basic ideas about society that where mainstream when I was growing up. If Sue’s piece is the sort of thing these people are reading then what is the hope for any real alternative economics? Maybe I’m drawing a long bow but I can’t help thinking that some people in the Green party see the future as organic boutique stores for comfortable consumers.

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  50. I have had other encounters with young Greens who seemed genuinely confused when I pointed out that using market pricing mechanisms to achieve environmentally beneficial changes could be socially inequitable. It either just didn’t occur to them or they could not see that it was important, or couldn’t conceive of any other mechanism.

    I am sure that some Greens, young and old, get confused by this. It does get quite technical.

    This is particularly clear with eco-taxes. On their own these are highly regressive. Effective, over the medium term, simple to implement, but socially undesirable. This caused quite a few of us, young and old, to make very clear that we need to link our eco-taxes very plainly with progressive resource pricing. For transport that means subsidised public transport. For energy that means progressive pricing, directly. Where the more you use the more, per unit, you pay. So the first part is cheap. (And the elimination of fixed charges).

    Currently you need to study our policy quite hard to find this stuff. That will change over the next few months.

    I think there is a generation that have grown up post-1987 who have not experienced an time when free market economics was not normalised and have not experienced some basic ideas about society that where mainstream when I was growing up. If Sue’s piece is the sort of thing these people are reading then what is the hope for any real alternative economics? Maybe I’m drawing a long bow but I can’t help thinking that some people in the Green party see the future as organic boutique stores for comfortable consumers.

    Yes. There is such a generation. But they also missed out on the Trotskyists, the Maoists and other assorted lunatics of the left. And they are reading *much* more than this piece of Sue’s.

    You are drawing an incredibly long bow! You are not paying proper attention to the Green Party if that is what you think! There is an element that wants to be comfortably shopping at the local organic co-op with a wicker basket paying $2.50 for an organic mandarin. They are mostly harmless! In fact what is wrong with a nice afternoon down the local organic co-op?

    But I agree, as does the Green Party, that it is not a model for the whole of society. Some of us still like to throw a buffalo on the barbecue! (A Gnu perhaps?)

    so far, so blissful

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  51. “In fact what is wrong with a nice afternoon down the local organic co-op?”

    I agree entirely. The local organic co-op in Wellington was out-competed by the organic boutiques. My hunch is that if Green party supporters had boycotted the boutiques we’d still have the co-op.

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  52. I agree entirely. The local organic co-op in Wellington was out-competed by the organic boutiques. My hunch is that if Green party supporters had boycotted the boutiques we’d still have the co-op.

    Touche. Again.

    But are you sure of your facts?

    peace
    W

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  53. Fairly certain – at least some people in the organic co-op reckoned that their demise was linked to the opening of organic outlets that didn’t require user involvement.

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  54. Slightly more complex – the organic coop led the way in supplying organic produce – some of those involved took that groundwork and experience and introduced competition by way of a rival run as a for profit business (the coop having no ‘restraint of trade’ clause as a good capitalist business would).

    The business model out competed the coop, in part because the coop required membership and participation, the latter being difficult if you have another job and little spare time. So in effect, our social system created a bias in favour of the business model over the participatory community model.

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