Grow­com col­umn

Ben­e­fits to trace­abil­ity but don’t charge farmers

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - INSIDE ABOUT YOUR RURAL WEEKLY - DAVID THOM­SON Grow­com CEO

GROW­COM cau­tiously wel­comes the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent pledge of $12.4 mil­lion to mod­ernise Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural trace­abil­ity but warns it must not come at an ad­di­tional cost to farmers.

As Queens­land’s peak body for hor­ti­cul­ture, we strongly sup­port the idea of bet­ter trace­abil­ity as long as it fits with ex­ist­ing sys­tems, is not du­pli­cated across in­dus­try is­sues and doesn’t af­fect farmers’ cost of pro­duc­tion.

The Na­tional Trace­abil­ity Project aims to pre­serve Aus­tralia’s rep­u­ta­tion for clean, green, eth­i­cally pro­duced and safe food and as­sure farmers that their pro­duce re­tains good qual­ity on its jour­ney through­out the sup­ply chain.

As a boom­ing in­dus­try and eco­nomic corner­stone of our coun­try, hor­ti­cul­ture needs to be at the fore­front of gov­ern­ment pri­or­i­ties.

Trace­abil­ity in par­tic­u­lar goes a long way to­wards en­hanc­ing trust in Aus­tralian-grown prod­ucts and gives our farmers a com­pet­i­tive edge in the global mar­ket­place.

Over the course of the next six months, Grow­com would like to be a part of the con­sul­ta­tion to help de­velop a Na­tional Trace­abil­ity Pol­icy Frame­work and Ac­tion Plan.

We have the op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly ad­dress na­tional food safety in­ci­dents and im­prove our meth­ods of iden­ti­fy­ing when and where biose­cu­rity in­cur­sions oc­cur.

Since ap­prox­i­mately

70 per cent of Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural pro­duce is ex­ported, it is ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial for us to pro­tect our coun­try’s im­age as one of the world’s best food pro­duc­ers.

Mod­el­ling data shows that im­proved trace­abil­ity and biose­cu­rity could in­crease agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion by $1 bil­lion a year.

En­hanced trace­abil­ity mea­sures will be a win not just for one in­dus­try but all fruit and veg­etable in­dus­tries that op­er­ate across a multi-step sup­ply chain.

It is our hope that farmers will soon have full con­fi­dence to sup­port their claims that their pro­duce is safe and en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly when be­ing shipped over­seas and trans­ported from pad­dock to plate.

Our Fair Farms market recog­ni­tion scheme will also give con­sumers con­fi­dence that the food they eat is pro­duced by grow­ers who treat their work­ers prop­erly.

Grow­com looks for­ward to work­ing closely with the Trace­abil­ity Work­ing Group and mem­bers from all Aus­tralian gov­ern­ments to en­sure im­proved na­tional trace­abil­ity is ben­e­fi­cial for farmers and doesn’t pose a fi­nan­cial bur­den.

PHOTO: ISTOCK

TRACE­ABIL­ITY PROJECT: Grow­com sup­ports a new scheme to pro­tect Aus­tralia’s food im­age, but says it will work to pro­tect farmers from ex­tra charges, CEO David Thom­son says.

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