Push for Victorian State Government to put Victorian veggies first
A campaign to ensure that Victorian State Government procurement policy prioritises Victorian-grown produce is picking up steam, with vegetable and potato growers representative body AusVeg adding its voice to calls for policy reform.
The Full Value for Victorian Food Procurement Policy campaign, backed by a coalition of leading Australian food industry groups, seeks to ensure that Victorian Government departments and agencies prioritise the purchase of Victorian-grown and Victorian-made food.
The Coalition includes AusVeg, SPC, the Australian Food & Grocery Council, Apple and Pear Australia Ltd, Bean Growers Australia, The Australian Manufacturers Workers Union, Goulburn Valley Growers, The Victorian Farmers Federation and the Australian Processed Tomatoes Research Council.
Campaign in lead up to Victorian election
The campaign hopes to see all political parties consider proposed reforms as part of their platform in the lead-up to the Victorian State election in November 2014.
“Investments in horticulture are investments in the country’s future – by procuring locally-grown produce, the State Government can make a real difference to regional economies,” said Mr White.
“Price has become the main determinant in procurement decisions by State governments, leaving vital considerations like safety, quality and the wider economic benefits in terms of employment by the wayside when sourcing food,” said Andrew White, AusVeg spokesperson.
“AusVeg is proud to be a member of this campaign and to be a part of the movement to bring clean, green and safe local produce to the front of the line in State Government procurement policies,” Mr White said.
“Significant” amount of food in public institutions imported
Mr White said that there was a lack of data around current procurement practices due to current processes, but that the data AusVeg had “indicates that a significant amount of the food going into our hospitals and other public institutions has been produced overseas”.
“It’s vital to protect the long-term viability of our farmers that there is state and federal government adoption of Australia-first procurement policies where possible, following in the footsteps of policies adopted recently in the UK and elsewhere around the world,” Mr White said.
Policy would push for Australian product
The proposed policy would ensure that high-quality Australian fruit and vegetables, as well as other food products, were not overlooked in procurement decisions in favour of cheaper foreign imports.
“The standards behind Australian production are among the highest in the world, and it is imperative that Victorian growers’ work to meet these standards is rewarded and recognised,” Mr White said. “When the Government looks at where it sources its food, we want it to consider the full value provided by Victorian producers, and not just choose the option with the smallest impact to the bottom line,” he said.