Allegations about farm compost in The Daily Telegraph

Statement by James Jackson, President of NSW Farmers

NSW Farmers notes the media-reported outcomes of a review by the New South Wales Government’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of the use of mixed waste organic material (MWOM) in agriculture.  We note, too, that this information is contained on the EPA website.

With respect to the EPA, NSW Farmers was not:

•        consulted in the development of this review, 
•        asked to participate in the review, 
•        advised about its recommendations, nor
•        consulted about the implementation of these recommendations.

Given the potentially significant implications for farming, and our state’s reputation for growing clean, safe and quality fresh food and fibre, it is disappointing that the Government and the EPA did not consult with farmers in the development of this response.

Anything which suggests a risk to, or that could jeopardise, the reputation of our state’s fresh produce must be avoided.  

It is therefore regrettable that the Government and the EPA failed to openly communicate this review, and its findings, to all stakeholders, particularly the people using it as compost on their farms.  A media release may not have been sufficient in this case.

The NSW EPA has advised:

“Independent research commissioned by the NSW EPA concluded that there are limited agricultural benefits from applying mixed waste organic material at the current regulated rates, and there are potential environmental risks.”.

We are concerned, however, to better understand the ‘potential environmental risks’, along with receiving advice about the potential health risks for farmers – we note a further study is being undertaken to inform the next steps of this project.  We would appreciate a briefing about these further studies.

For almost two decades, farmers across New South Wales have been encouraged to reduce landfill by recycling treated household waste into their landscape.  NSW Farmers represent stakeholders with considerable exposure to this issue and should have been involved in this from day one. The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Gabrielle Upton, should demand a full explanation from the EPA, an agency under her control.  

Date: Wednesday 7 November 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690