Grow­com fears for Aus­tralian food se­cu­rity

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor - Martin Rasini

GROW­COM has called for gov­ern­ment to act to en­sure Aus­tralia’s food se­cu­rity in the face of ris­ing lev­els of im­ports.

Al­ready up to 34 per cent of fruit and 19 per cent of veg­eta­bles con­sumed in Aus­tralia are im­ported, Grow­com said.

The call was made by chief ex­ec­u­tive Alex Livingstone at t he Bris­bane l aunch of a Grow­com re­port out­lin­ing food se­cu­rity i ssues f ac­ing t he hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try.

Mr Livingstone said in dol­lar terms, Aus­tralia im­ports pro­cessed fruit and veg­eta­bles with a greater value than those it ex­ports.

‘‘ While we still ex­port more fruit, nuts and fresh or chilled veg­eta­bles than we im­port, the gap has been sig­nif­i­cantly nar­row­ing in the past decade,’’ he said.

Mr Livingstone said while suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments had lauded Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural ex­ports as a sign there were no threats to the nation’s food se­cu­rity, his or­gan­i­sa­tion was not con­vinced.

‘‘ Fig­ures to sup­port these ar­gu­ments are bi­ased by a small num­ber of heav­ily ex­port­fo­cussed in­dus­tries, such as meat and grains,’’ he said.

‘‘ Food se­cu­rity should not be mea­sured solely by how much pro­duc­tion is ex­ported.

‘‘ There is also a need to look at how much of the food we eat is im­ported and con­sider whether im­ported prod­ucts will con­tinue to be cheap, or even avail­able, in the face of f ore­cast bur­geon­ing world pop­u­la­tions.’’

Mr Livingstone said Grow­com had de­vel­oped a pol­icy pa­per on food se­cu­rity which it would dis­cuss with the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment dur­ing de­vel­op­ment of the Na­tional Food Plan.

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