Australia’s National Food Plan: Tapping Into Asia’s Expansion
- Will your business be affected by the new National Food Plan?
- Are cheap imports of fresh food affecting your competitiveness?
- Did you know that you may be eligible to apply for financial assistance through grants under the new National Food Plan?
- What do you see as the big issues for Australian food producers and would you like to have your voice heard?
The Federal Government has said it will help Australia’s food industry target Asia as part of its "National Food Plan" to grow the sector.
On 25 May, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released the National Food Plan, spelling out the Government’s intentions for Australia’s food industry. Based on the objectives outlined in the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper, the Plan has a strong focus on Asia and assisting Australian industry to tap into the needs of an expanding Asian middle class.
The plan also aims to help Australian industry increase exports and support a thriving food industry while ensuring Australia’s food needs are met sustainably. It sets out 16 goals in four categories - “Growing Exports”, “Thriving Industry”, “Sustainable Food” and “People” - to be reached by 2025.
What does the National Food Plan mean for business?
Under the Plan, the Government will provide about $40 million worth of funding, mostly to strengthen Australia's position as a quality food producer for Asia.
The plan includes a $1.5 million small grants program for community food groups. Applicants will be able to apply for Federal Government grants of up to $25,000 to support projects such as farmers’ markets and "food rescue activities", while grants of up to $10,000 will be available to people involved in smaller initiatives such as community gardens and city farms.
The Plan also sets up a Productivity Commission inquiry into cutting red tape for food manufacturing.
How has the business community reacted to the Plan?
Public reaction to the Plan has been mixed.
The Australian Made Campaign has welcomed the National Food Plan and its focus on exporting into Asia, and stressed the importance of branding Australian products in Asian marketplaces.
The National Farmers' Federation has described the Plan as a positive step and welcomed the $28.5 million worth of grants to investigate Asian food markets.
Ausveg, Australia's peak body for vegetable growers, has welcomed $2 million to strengthen the Australian brand in Asia, but says that doesn't help producers compete with cheap imports.
Spokesman William Churchill says $908 million worth of fruit and vegetables were imported last year, and country of origin labelling isn't addressed in the food plan.
Robert Pekin is the Executive Director of the Food Connect Foundation and has been heavily involved in developing community supported agriculture.
He says the plan ignores some big issues facing Australian food producers.
"It hasn't addressed the real issues in the food system... around farmer debt, the number of farmers leaving the land, anti competitiveness in the retail sector. Or some of the huge issues coming down the road in terms of energy constraints, water constraints and financial constraints at the global level which are big issues for Australian agriculture," Mr Pekin said.
How can Dearin & Associates help you engage with the National Food Plan?
Dearin & Associates can help your business bring its perspectives and priorities to the attention of leaders in government.
If your business will be affected by the National Food Plan, particularly in light of Australia’s developing relationship with Asia, we can help you engage with the relevant government officials, assist in the preparation of submissions to government and connect you directly with the key people. We particularly encourage small and medium enterprises in emerging sectors to consider engaging in this process to ensure that their views and concerns are not drowned out by bigger companies in traditional sectors.
We can also assist your business or association to apply for the grants available under the Plan.
To talk to us about the various ways in which we can assist your business or industry group to work with government, contact us at (02) 8003 75 83 or at email@example.com.
- Best, Dean. “AUS: Canberra targets Asia in "national food plan"”. Just-food. (http://www.just-food.com/news/canberra-targets-asia-in-national-food-plan_id123345.aspx).
- Department of Agriculture, National Food Plan. 25 May 2013. (http://www.daff.gov.au/nationalfoodplan).
- Lindberg, Rebecca and Lawrence, Mark. “National Food Plan: most Australians are food secure, but can we do more?”. The Conversation. 29 May 2013. (http://theconversation.com/national-food-plan-most-australians-are-food-secure-but-can-we-do-more-14682#comments).
- Locke, Sarina. “Opposition says National Food Plan is a "con job"”. ABC Rural. 29 May 2013.
- Rose, Nicholas and Croft, Michael. “The draft National Food Plan: putting corporate hunger first”. 20 July 2012. The Conversation. (http://theconversation.com/the-draft-national-food-plan-putting-corporate-hunger-first-8342).
- Wilson, Cameron. “National Food Plan”. Radio National. 27 May 2013. (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bushtelegraph/national-food-plan/4715298).