Labor proposes National Food Plan
Federal minister for Agriculture Tony Burke today announced that an elected Labor government would introduce a National Food Plan, to examine food security, food quality, the affordability of food and the sustainability of food in Australia.
The initiative would not require new funding, but instead come out of the Regional Food Producers Innovation and Productivity Program budget.
“This is a first for Australia and will integrate all aspects of food policy by looking at the whole food chain, from the paddock to the plate. Even though we export 60% of what we grow, we need to ensure that our country’s food security is protected in the years to come,” said Burke.
“The Gillard Labor Government’s National Food Plan will look at the opportunities and risks to the long term sustainability of food production. This Plan will include a consultation process with key industry players such as the National Farmers Federation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, CSIRO and Woolworths.”
The plan would examine food security, affordability, sustainability, productivity and global competitiveness, as well as examining the possibility of streamlining business regulations, taxation, labour market and policy settings.
Australian Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive Kate Carnell welcomed the Government’s move, saying a partnership approach involving relevant stakeholders was vital to plan and achieve a strategy to ensure Australia has a safe, nutritious and sustainable food supply into the future.
“Australians want a robust local food production and processing sector – they don’t want to be increasingly reliant on imports for our food supply,” Carnell said.
“With a growing population and demand for food globally, we need a change of direction to highlight the importance of research and development for innovation, water use and sustainability as well as focusing on the whole value chain from farm-gate to the consumer.”
The National Farmer’s Federation also welcomed the move, saying that Australia’s food security comes down to things like agricultural research, balanced water reform, a world-class biosecurity regime and efficient road, rail and port networks.
“The world needs food and fibre like never before and we are damn good at producing it but Australians take this for granted at our peril,” said NFF President David Crombie.
“The Government needs to work with industry, right through the supply chain, in a strategic and long-term way. We need to make sure policies are geared to Australia’s interests – domestically to keep quality high and prices competitive and globally to meet surging demand. Australia’s farmers and processing sectors will get on with the job but we need a visionary and proactive policy environment that supports our efforts,” Crombie said.
The Food Plan expects to begin by bringing farmers, manufacturers and processors, distribution and logistics companies, retail and food service companies, and the expertise of our agricultural and food scientists together to develop a strategy to maximize food production opportunities.
The second stage of the development of the National Food Plan would incorporate health and nutrition issues, following the completion of the current Blewett Review into food labeling, expected to be completed by the end of this year.
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