What is Demeter?
Demeter is a world wide certification system, used to verify to the consumers in over 50 countries that food or product has been produced by biodynamic methods. The Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association is the certifier in New Zealand. (The Association registered Demeter as a certification trademark in 1984.) Inspectors visit the operators (farmers and processors) annually to collect information about their methods. A committee of assessors then decides whether to grant certification. Most committee members are experienced biodynamic farmers and/or processors. The Demeter Standards are a published statement of the allowed and the required practices for certified biodynamic operators. All persons working towards Demeter certification are recommended to obtain a copy from the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association’s office or download from the link at the foot of this page. Any questions they raise can be referred to the Association office.
Demeter International, the regulator of Demeter certification worldwide maintains an on-line database of Demeter certified operators and their products. You can access it here. You can see just the New Zealand list here (but note that some NZ producers have not given their permission for their details to be published on this website).
How to get certification
Join the Bio Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association.
- Learn and practise biodynamic methods on your farm.
- Obtain a Demeter application pack from the Association’s office or download the various documents here (This link opens a new page with a number of different documents on it)
- Obtain a copy of the Demeter production standards from the Association’s office or download here (This link opens a pdf copy of the standards which you can read or download)
- Complete the application to request a visit from an adviser or inspector and begin the stand-down year.
The visit of the farm adviser is the most common starting point for formal progress towards certification which is followed by working to the published Demeter standards. This visit is one of the criteria for beginning the registration year. A formal inspection is an alternative starting point – the difference between the two staring points is explained in the application pack.
- Obtain information about processing requirements from the Association office.
- Submit a letter of application accompanied by a detailed description of proposed processing methods.
Some requirements for processing
- Raw produce certified Demeter or In Conversion to Demeter.
- Appropriate processing methods to preserve biodynamic quality, as detailed in the Demeter International Processing Standards.
- Fail safe systems to prevent mixing in of uncertified produce. (This is just an outline.)
There are Demeter standards for labelling, which particularly govern the use of the Demeter co-brand symbol (above left), the main Demeter logo used internationally. Some requirements of the farming standards A registration year during which your farm is converted to biodynamic methods.
- Stopping use of synthetic water soluble fertilisers, and most synthetic pesticides, herbicides and animal remedies.
- Application of biodynamic preparation 500 – preferably twice annually.
- Use of the biodynamic compost preparations in all fermented organic manures. including compost and liquid brews.
- A plan for converting the whole farm within five years.
This above is just an outline – refer to standards for exact requirements.
After the registration year
The next step is usually an inspection. In preparation for an inspection the farmer needs to supply
- A farm management plan – written according to the Demeter NZ management plan template
- An annual report – a completed form containing questions and tables for activities in the previous 18 months
- Supporting documents such as declarations from merchants and other farmers from whom supplies have been obtained
- A farm profile – details of farm physical characteristics such as soil type, climate etc written according to the Demeter NZ template
If a year or more of inspection or reporting is missed, the Association reserves the right to require extra information and fees or to withhold certification until an acceptable continuous history of inspection is re-established. Full Demeter certification is normally required for exporting.
What does it cost?
- Annual inspection and licensing fee is $512 including GST, travel costs and up to 5 hours inspection time.Over 5 hours, time is charged out at $60/hr plus GST. In the second and subsequent years there is a $50 prompt filing discount. Applies to both farmers and processors.
- Levies are paid on all produce sold as Demeter or In Conversion to Demeter.
- Levies are ½% on sales in first year of certification, 1% after that.
- Farmer’s levy is based on farm-gate value at time of sale. Processor’s levy is based on value added.
- Wine grapes are levied in a different manner: There is a levy of $80 per hectare for the first 30 hectares of grapes, and $10 per hectare on areas beyond that. Finished wine labelled Demeter is levied at 1c per litre.
For further information please contact:
Joanne Turner, Secretary, Demeter New Zealand, PO Box 356, Martinborough 5741, New Zealand Phone 0-6-306 8582, email: firstname.lastname@example.org