Is it possible to certify only part of the farm?
All certifying bodies operating in Tasmania will support part certification of a farm. However, they would prefer that the part certification lead to a whole of property certification within ten years.
A part certification means that a farmer can try organic farming on part of the holding without having to commit the whole farm.
If the farm is only partially certified meticulous records must be maintained of both the organic and conventional enterprises.
Production of visually identical products on a partially certified farm is called 'parallel production' and is not permitted because of the risk of mixing, however limited exemptions may apply for perennial plants like fruit trees.
How do I find out about converting to organic farming?
To find out about converting to organic farming:
How long does conversion take?
The conversion period from conventional to organic farming is three years.
It may sometimes be possible to negotiate a shorter period depending on the farm's history, especially in relation to the use of prohibited inputs.
The table below gives examples of shortest potential timeframes:
Can I process both organic and conventional foods?
Many processors who have undertaken to have their premises certified organic have continued to produce both conventional and organic lines.
Processing organic product imposes some restrictions. Using an abattoir as an example, organic processing can generally only be carried out as the first production run after a thorough clean down. This would generally be in the morning on the Monday after a clean down which usually occurs at the end of the working week on a Friday.
Processors need to ensure that products are segregated to ensure that there is no risk of cross-contamination through contact with conventional products.
In the cropping/orchard situation, part of a property can be converted.
Where livestock are involved it is more difficult because they usually cover the whole farm.
Where an enterprise processes both organic and conventional product the facility must be cleaned to organic standards. This often means that lines are stored until enough organic product is available to justify the expense of the clean down. If you are in doubt, talk to your
to clarify the situation.
What does the process entail?
Once you have undertaken adequate research and decided that you want to proceed with certification you will need to:
The application form may include a questionnaire requesting information about the farm management history including:
The initial 12 month period is generally referred to as "pre-certification". The next two years are referred to as the "in-conversion" period.
Is organic production economically feasible?
Many factors need to be considered by producers when taking into account the economic feasibility of converting to organic production. Often within the first few years, yields might be reduced. If your region is not suited to organic production this will also increase financial risks. There may be reduced costs involved in relation to not having to purchase chemicals but there may be increases related to the cost of organically certified inputs such as feed, organic fertilisers and segregation.
The following tools can be are found on the
Farm Business Planning Tools web page:
Gross Margin Analysis spreadsheets for Feed Grade Wheat; Feed Grade Barley; Dairy Conversion (dryland and irrigated) and Dairy Greenfield Development
The Organics Gross Margin Report provides additional information about the analysis and assumptions that underlie the organic gross margin tools
These may assist you to make better-informed decisions around the potential profit of your business when considering conversion to organic farming.
Please note: Before using the Gross Margin Analysis Tools users are advised to read the disclaimer.
Who can assist me?
There are a number of consultants in the organic industry who specialise in providing information services to producers entering the organic industry.
Certifying bodies should be able to put you in contact with them.