Food shortage by 2020?

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th May 2008

Australia may have its own food crisis, with the WA Vegetable Growers Association indicating their fear that WA will be unable to feed itself with fresh local produce by about 2020.

The WA Vegetable Growers Association has called on the state government to create a regulatory authority to license growers and ensure sufficient production levels. Grower margins have become an issue as skyrocketing costs outweigh any increases in sale prices.

Chief Executive of the WA Vegetable Growers Association, Jim Turley, has labelled the current system as “unsustainable”. “The way we are going, WA growers will be incapable of supplying sufficient quantities of fresh vegetables within 10 to 15 years. Simply, we won’t be able to grow enough food to feed ourselves,” he was quoted as saying in The West Australian.

The WA Fruit Growers Association and the WA Farmers Federation (WAFarmers) have also outlined their concerns about current regulation and the future of the food industry in Western Australia. WAFarmers Meat Section President, Jeff Murray, is concerned that significantly depressed meat prices will result in an exodus of farmers from the industry.

“New season vealers are only four months away from being ready for market and farmers are anxiously examining prices, which are below the cost of production,” he said. “If abattoirs are not in a position to pay considerably more for livestock, WA would be in danger of a mass exodus of experienced meat farmers. This may leave the beef and sheep slaughter industries, which are worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the WA economy, in complete turmoil.”

The news comes as concern about a possible global food shortage spreads around the world. It also follows the WA Food Industry Association’s assertions in March, following a meeting of Industry Leaders, that WA’s food and beverage manufacturing industry was at the crossroads.

The March meeting called for greater partnering of government with the WA Food Industry Association to ensure a growing and sustainable food industry sector and greater investment in innovation and marketing within the food industry.