Food paper focus must widen: Blair

PANMURE environmentalist Gillian Blair has warned a Federal Government committee that the proposed national food blueprint was focused too much on large agri-business interests rather than small farms using non-chemical methods.

Ms Blair’s submission to the National Food Plan Green Paper also slams live export of Australian stock, which she says triggered the loss of about 10,000 processing industry jobs, animal suffering on long voyages and inhumane slaughter overseas.

Warrnambool City Council, the Barwon South-West division of Regional Development Australia (RDA) and the Great South Coast Group also lodged submissions highlighting the region’s huge agriculture output and potential.

The RDA calls for great skills opportunities for the agriculture food sector, infrastructure investment and examination of taxes and charges.

Warrnambool council highlighted opportunities to become the food bowl for Asia, called for action on addressing skilled labour shortages, better branding and promotion of local products, maintaining national food security and fostering partnerships between all stakeholders. 

Its submission followed a meeting of key stakeholders in Warrnambool with the Global Foundation to explore how the region could best capitalise on new Asian markets.

The city is investigating the possibility of forming a Warrnambool Asia Society to assist with cultural, social and business development. 

Ms Blair, who is secretary of the Sustainable Agriculture and Communities Alliance, called for the gradual introduction of Halal methods of slaughter and the export of packaged meat.

“Australia would then not be at the mercy of the whims of officials of importing countries who sometimes decide that the live animals are not healthy, as happened recently,” she wrote.

Her submission also warns on the use of antibiotics in animal feed, fluoride and bromine additions to food, irradiation, importation of cheap foreign foods, the prevalence of Asian bees, genetically-modified food, nanotechnology and mining among other issues.

Submissions are being considered in the lead-up to formation of a food plan for the nation.

pcollins@standard.fairfax.com.au

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