BioGro Society AGM
On June 26, the BioGro Society, (formerly known as the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society), hosted their Annual General Meeting in Auckland. At the AGM, members discussed and voted on their future direction, including seeking approval to continue exploring and preparing to merge with the Soil and Health Association.
For the last few years, the BioGro Society and the Soil and Health Association have been discussing a potential merger and what this will mean for their members and New Zealand's organics industry.
The merger discussions began in response to a need for the organics community to work closer together, especially those involved in promoting and advocating certified organic products and farming.
The Soil and Health Association has been committed to supporting organic food and farming since 1941, with their mantra being “Healthy Soil – Healthy Food – Healthy People.” The BioGro Society holds similar advocacy principles, but until now, has primarily been focussed on setting-up the certifying body, BioGro New Zealand Ltd.
However, now that the BioGro Society and BioGro New Zealand Ltd have separated, the Society is in a better position to promote and support organics from an advocacy standpoint.
It is important to note that the BioGro Society and BioGro New Zealand Ltd are now two separate entities. BioGro New Zealand certifies organic operations and products, whereas the Society works to increase demand for organics amongst New Zealanders. Although BioGro New Zealand Ltd is owned by and reports to the Society, a separate board of directors governs its practices.
Although it is not yet clear what a merger between the Society and the Soil and Health Association would look like, both non-profits share similar values as well as having overlapping membership.
Both the BioGro Society and the Soil and Health Association voted in favour of continuing to discuss merger options over the next 12 months. The discussions and consultations may lead to some exciting developments, which will work positively to continue to grow New Zealand’s organics industry alongside the rest of the world.
Farewell to BioGro Society Councillors
In addition to the merger discussions, the BioGro Society farewelled Heather Atkinson (Chair) and dedicated councillors, Andrew Wood and David Wright.
Heather is a pioneer of organics in New Zealand. There are few who have traversed the realms of organics more widely. Having managed her own farming operation, Heather has always been an advocate for organic farming and certification, bringing a wealth of personal experience to the role. Her knowledge and passion will be missed.
David was the Society’s longest-serving councillor. At the AGM, he was awarded a life membership award for his services to the BioGro Society since 1995. David has been instrumental in transforming BioGro New Zealand into a professional certification body – one that is internationally accredited, revered and respected.
Andrew Wood has been a passionate supporter of the organic industry for many years with his role as Organic Category Manager at Seeka. Andrew has recently transitioned within Seeka to a new role and unfortunately his involvement in the organic category is now less. Andrew has stepped aside from the BioGro Society to allow another organic kiwifruit representative to take his place – Jon Merrick, Organic Category Manager for Apata.
BioGro Society Council 2015
Gareth (Gaz) Ingram is the BioGro Society’s newly elected Chair, taking over the role from Heather Atkinson. Gaz has been involved in organics all his life, from the early days of working in organic orchards to his current role as Organic and Biological Manager at Farmlands Co-operative Trading Society.
The BioGro Society also welcomes Giselle McLachlan, Mike Murphy and John Merrick as its newest Councillors.
Giselle has many years of legal and governance experience. She is an organics enthusiast, having helped run an organic sheep and beef farm until late 2014.
Mike has 22 years commercial experience and is the Managing Director and driving force behind Kokako Organic Coffee Roasters, which is dedicated to organic, sustainable and Fair Trade principles.
Jon is the Organic Category Manager for Apata kiwifruit. He has wide and useful experience in both governance and in running his own company.
BioGro New Zealand Ltd.
Donald Nordeng presented BioGro New Zealand’s strategy for growth over the next three years. The BioGro board has tasked Donald with an aggressive target of growing BioGro from 1.6million dollars in turnover to 3.2million by the end of 2017/2018.
Donald outlined a strategy which included streamlining certification processes, implementing online tools such as an online Organic Management Plan and working with strategic partners to grow New Zealand’s organics sector. One of the new services that BioGro seeks to offer is a non-GMO certification scheme. This will support the work that the Soil and Health Association is doing to keep New Zealand GE-free.
Lastly, BioGro bid farewell to Hans Dirkse who is leaving BioGro after 24 years of service as an auditor.
Annual Report 2015
The 2015 Annual Report is now available on the BioGro website. For more information related to the year that has just closed, download the full-report.