Australian Conservation Foundation urges food industry re-think to prevent a crisis

Posted by Isobel Drake on 29th October 2008

A rapidly changing climate, increasingly expensive oil, and declining land and river health threaten to undo Victoria’s impressive food productivity and prosperity, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF).
A new report released on Monday by the ACF – Paddock to Plate: Food, Farming & Victoria’s Progress to Sustainability – suggests a re-think on not just the way we produce food, but also the way it is hauled, stored, processed and consumed, if we are to avoid a serious food crisis.

“Consumers are already feeling the pressure of escalating petrol and food prices and, with climate change looming, if (we) don’t change direction, the strain on hip pockets and our environment will only intensify,” ACF’s Rural Landscapes Campaigner, Corey Watts, said. “The good news is that we can turn crisis into opportunity and position the state as a world leader in premium foods with trusted clean, green credentials – bringing greater returns to farmers, health dividends, innovation, new exports and new regional jobs.”

“The State Government has a special responsibility to make change possible, and to make sure progress isn’t disjointed or piecemeal anymore. Clear direction and commitment is needed from the Premier on down,” Mr Watts added.

Key findings of Paddock to Plate include:

* Over-reliance on fossils fuels is leaving Victorians vulnerable to rapidly rising food and farm input prices, as well as adding to our carbon pollution load. Victoria is set to be among those regions worst affected by a rapidly changing climate.

* Food is directly responsible for nearly a quarter of household carbon pollution and about half of our water use. Responsibility cannot be left to fall on our farmers alone. The report suggests agribusinesses, supermarkets, transport companies, retailers, restaurants, shareholders and ultimately, consumers, must all show greater leadership.

An Australian first, Paddock to Plate has been prepared by leading farming and environmental thinker Andrew Campbell, former head of Land & Water Australia. Rich in information and fresh ideas, the report explores sustainable directions for food and farming in Victoria.

A full set of recommendations for policy and strategy based on the report will be released later this year.