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Launch of the National Food Plan green paper: food industry forum, Sydney

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Launch of the National Food Plan green paper 17 July 2012


Food industry forum, Sydney

I am pleased to be here this morning with representatives from across our food system to discuss Australia’s future food policies.

Today, Australia is food secure and we export more food than we need ourselves.

Farm and fisheries production is worth over $40 billion annually, with $27 billion of that food exported.

We need to take the right steps now to make sure that strong position continues into the future.

In the coming decades there will be great opportunities and challenges for our food system - for growers, food processors, retailers and all of us as consumers.

That’s why the Australian Government is developing the National Food Plan.

The National Food Plan will establish long term directions and help Australia meet new challenges to our food system to ensure that all Australians enjoy access to high quality, affordable food.

But it’s not just about making sure that we have reliable food supplies at home: the National Food Plan is also about making the most of new opportunities internationally.

While there will always be scope for growth and development within Australia, unprecedented opportunity lies beyond our borders.

These opportunities include the predicted 77% increase in global food demand by 2050, and the evolving food choices of a growing Asian middle class.

With this comes the need for a Food Plan to make sure we are well positioned to grasp these opportunities.

With rural productivity increasing at more than twice the rate of other industries, we can build on our strengths in key growth commodities such as beef, wheat, dairy, sheep and sugar.

We also need to build on reforms the government has already begun in biosecurity, nutrition, the use of chemicals in agriculture, drought preparedness and water.

We must continue to nurture our food producers - both in the primary and secondary streams of the food industry.

We must keep on building our research and development capability.

We must continue to negotiate with our trading partners to build productive, collaborative markets.

And we must develop our food infrastructure, so that it is ahead of the game, anticipating markets, emerging labour and skills needs and developments in biotechnology.

In addition, the National Food Plan is one way we are preparing for future challenges, including climate change and limited natural resources.

It will also heighten the focus on encouraging healthy eating, to help counter the alarming increase in obesity, in adults and children, and other diet-related chronic diseases.

Navigating these challenges requires careful planning and partnerships - with industry, peak bodies, state and territory governments and consumers.

The green paper I am launching today includes a range of policy options for consideration by the community and by industry.

The green paper seeks views on policy areas including:

 Food Security - whether the government should regularly report on our food security and supply chains;  Market Access - how we can assist Australian producers to enter overseas markets and create closer trade ties;  Supply Chain Relationships - how do we foster stronger relationships for the benefit

of suppliers, supermarkets and consumers;  Research and Development - boosting Australia’s agricultural productivity through rural R&D investment;  Infrastructure - what infrastructure our growing food industry needs;  Land Use - ways we can ensure Australia’s land is used sustainably, competing land

use interests are balanced, and foreign investment reflects the national interest;  Skills - how an industry-led working group can create a workforce development strategy for the sector;  Ongoing food policy development - how we create a key stakeholder/government

food forum to drive food policy; and

 Disaster Mitigation - how we reduce risks and maintain continuity of the food supply in the case of a significant national emergency.

Australia’s first National Food Plan is an opportunity to get the right policies in place for a strong, resilient and collaborative food industry that responds to our needs now and into the future.

We have already received valuable feedback on the issues paper, released last year which contributed enormously to drafting the green paper.

There will now be public meetings across the country, from Perth to Townsville, Hobart to Kununurra, on the options presented in the green paper. You can also have your say on the Food Plan blog, Twitter or in writing via the mail.

When the government has considered your feedback on the options presented in the green paper it will finalise its policies and release the National Food Plan white paper.

Today’s forum is an excellent way to get that consultation with Australia underway.

Thank you.