Diversity—Agricultural Competitiveness Preserved

The judgment in the case between Steve Marsh and Mick Baxter has been handed down. The case has shown that coexistence is working in Australia and that different production systems can exist side-by-side. The ABCA believes that this decision provides renewed impetus for discussion about organic criteria and their place in the entire farming system in Australia.

The situation as a whole is highly regrettable and all involved in the agricultural industry need to work together to avoid similar disputes in the future.

The strength and diversity of Australian agriculture brings great value to our country. This exists because of the range of farming systems we are allowed to use. If only one system was allowed to flourish this would seriously damage the sector as a whole. There is room for all.

There will come a point where the agriculture sector can learn lessons from this case, but now is the time for cooperation, not conflict. In the long term, policy makers, peak industry bodies and the organic sector all need to work together to create initiatives and measures that prevent unnecessary risk for all famers and their neighbours whatever method of farming they choose to pursue.

Diversity of crops and production processes have always been a hallmark of Australian agricultural competitiveness

This verdict reaffirms the importance of allowing farmers the ability to choose the crops and production systems that best suits their needs and desired markets – which is so critical to their competitiveness.

Diversity empowers both consumer choice and the quality and value of Australian food and fibre that consumers have come to expect. The verdict points to the freedom of choice for farmers to responsibly plant whatever crop and system that best fits their needs. This principle extends universally to all, whether they are growing organic, GM or conventional crops.

Coexistence in agriculture is not a new concept

The long track record of farmers using different agricultural production methods alongside each other both here and overseas reaffirm that all agricultural production methods can and should work to coexist to deliver the best of Australian agriculture.

Australian farmers will now continue to have all of the available tools on the paddock, including GM varieties, that can meet the demanding weed and pest challenges that they often face.  To ensure farmers can innovate to meet the growing demand for food and fibre we need different parts of agriculture working together to avoid disputes such as this. The ability of all Australian farmers to choose the crops and production systems that best suit them relies upon it.

The ABCA hopes that Steve Marsh and Mick Baxter are able to put this case behind them and return to farming, side-by-side.