New National Food Policy Working Group established

Posted by Josette Dunn on 1st December 2010

The federal government has established a new working group to advise on the challenges and policies impacting on the future of Australia’s food supply and agriculture industry.

Whole grains

The National Food Policy Working Group is being launched today, and will be made up of supermarket giants, farmers, service providers and leading scientists.

Federal Agriculture Minister Tony Burke said he wanted Australia to adopt the same “strategic approach to food manufacturing” that has been taken with the car industry – “simple as that.” In line with this approach, the new working group will help design the food industry blueprint involving government and industry leaders including the AFGC and NFF.

The NFF hopes the group increases the profile of food and agriculture on the national agenda.  NFF President David Crombie said: “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.”

“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,” Mr Crombie said.
AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell agrees, saying “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 group comprises 13 members, each representing a link in the food-sector chain, includeing Woolworths managing director Michael Luscombe and newly appointed NFF president Jock Laurie.

“Our agricultural sector is in a strong position. Ninety-eight per cent of our fresh produce is grown and supplied by our very own farmers,” said Agriculture minister Joe Ludwig.

“But we need to ensure that our food industry adapts to the economic, environmental and consumer driven pressures across the food sector, from the paddock to the plate.”

The advice will help develop a National Food Plan for the next decade.

The group also includes Elders chief executive officer Malcolm Jackman, Linfox Logistics’ Michael Byrne, CSIRO’s Dr Alastair Robertson, Simplot Australia’s Terry O’Brien, OBE Organics’ Simone Tully, Boost Juice’s Janine Allis, Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Kate Carnell, Choice’s Nick Stace, Graincorp’s Alison Watkins, ACTU Secretary Jeff Lawrence and University of Wollongong’s Dr Peter Williams.