Queensland announces state Food Policy

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 15th June 2011

LamingtonQueensland Minister for Agriculture, Food and Regional Economies Tim Mulherin today launched a food policy for Queensland to further build the state’s multi-billion dollar food industry.

“As part of the 2011-12 State Budget, the Queensland Government has made an initial allocation of $2 million to support initiatives related to the policy,” Minister Mulherin said.

“With Queensland’s food value chain worth $18.7 billion to the state economy and a workforce of around 267,000, it’s critical we plan for future growth in the industry.”

Minister Mulherin said increasing demand for food stemming from population growth and rising affluence in developing countries presented significant opportunities for Queensland as a food exporter.

“The policy, which we are releasing for public comment, is first and foremost an economic development policy to maximise the economic growth of businesses across the food sector.

“The ‘Food for a Growing Economy’ policy puts our plan to grow Queensland’s food industry on record,” Mr Mulherin said.

“Through this policy the Bligh Government intends to deliver on its commitment to develop an investment framework to maximise growth in Queensland’s food sector.

“The policy is built around seven themes that recognise the links between food and areas such as environmental protection, health and land use planning.

“We need to recognise the importance of food production to the future of Queensland, and we need to do this through a whole-of-value chain approach.

“Given that we currently export 80 per cent of the food we produce, this policy sets out strategies to create job opportunities and wealth for Queenslanders, as well as outlining initiatives for working with key stakeholders to maximise industry growth.

“There are significant complexities in delivering such a policy with debate across economic, health, environmental, social and national security agendas.

“I urge all interested parties to consider the policy proposals and provide feedback.”

Mr Mulherin said the Queensland Government was determined to get Queensland’s first food policy right.

“The Australian Government has committed to delivering a national food plan, which we understand will focus on how the food industry adapts to economic, environmental and consumer-driven pressures,” he said.

Lamington“Like the proposed Queensland policy, the national plan takes a whole-of-chain view towards a sustainable, globally competitive and resilient food system.

“Our Queensland policy will be a key vehicle for Queensland’s response to the national plan.”

The Queensland Farmer’s Federation applauded the announcement, with QFF CEO Dan Galligan saying many of the key challenges and constraints facing the agricultural sector could become solvable with the introduction of a broad State-wide food policy supported by National principles.

“Queensland has a number of Acts in place that cover many of the ways farmers go about their business,” Mr Galligan said. “We also have policies and ‘blueprints’ for other major industries in the State, such as minerals and gas extraction.  To date the State Government has not seen the food industry and food, fibre, and foliage production as worthy of policy and proactive leadership.  With this initiative, hopefully this will change.

“Despite cyclones, droughts, financial meltdowns and competition for resources, the agricultural sector continues to be a mainstay of the Queensland economy. Securing this and providing a plan for growth in our ability to grow food, fibre, foliage and to process these products ready for consumption is not only sensible, it is critical for our future society.

“QFF will work with the State Government to ensure this policy, as it is developed, delivers tangible and positive outcomes for farmers, food processers and regional communities.

“In doing so we will also ensure the Government remembers that in Queensland it is more than just food production – it is also fibre and foliage.”

Mr Galligan said it was excellent to see Agriculture Minister Tim Mulherin demonstrating a policy that had vision and potential.

“The challenge will come with the implementation. That means not just developing a sound policy, but supporting it with adequate back-up in legislation that secures the fundamentals components to food, fibre, and foliage production, which includes access to appropriate land, soil and water as well as infrastructure to support sophisticated supply chains.”

Food for a Growing Economy: An Economic Development Framework for the Queensland Food industry can be downloaded from www.deedi.qld.gov.au and consultation is open until August 16, 2011.