Media Release — 25 February 2014

The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) is stunned that AUSVEG, the peak body of vegetable producers in Australia, has welcomed the axing of the $1.5 million in community food grants claiming, without evidence, a potential threat to bio-security.

“The peak body singled out community gardens, which was only one category of the many potential beneficiaries of the axed grant. The other beneficiaries would have included farmers markets, food hubs, community supported agriculture, community food kitchens, food rescue organisations, and more. A total of 364 applications were made to this program.

“All of these beneficiaries strongly support Australian farmers and Australian vegetable growers in particular,” said AFSA President, Michael Croft.

“By claiming the axing of community food grants was good policy, AUSVEG is working against the best interests of Australian vegetable growers — particularly those that supply the domestic market.

“To make matters worse, AUSVEG repeats calls for further trade liberalisation — a double-edged sword.  Free trade agreements, and the import competition they bring, are the main reason for Australian vegetable producers’ woes, as the SPC Ardmona saga demonstrates. That AUSVEG can’t or won’t see this fact beggars belief.”

Contrary to what appears to be baseless scaremongering, community and fair food projects are not risky. They are the fastest growing food sector in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES). They enjoy massive and growing community support.

According to national survey research carried out for AFSA by the Australia Institute in 2012, 53 percent of all Australian adults grow or raise some of their own food and nine percent of all adults participate in community gardening or a related form of community food production. Of the 53 percent that grow or raise some of their own food, nearly a fifth – 19 percent – had begun doing so in the last 12 months.

“In attacking community and fair food initiatives, AUSVEG are needlessly turning their fire on thousands of individuals and an increasing number of groups whose numbers include the strongest, best informed and most articulate supporters of Australia’s horticulturalists. These are groups and individuals that AUSVEG should be applauding and supporting.

“Regrettably, AUSVEG appear to have completely lost the veggie plot on this issue. We urge them to take a proper look at the evidence and assess where the real risks to Australia’s biosecurity are coming from, because they’re not from community gardeners,”  said Mr Croft.

For interview

  • Michael Croft
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Published On: 25 February, 2014Categories: Media Releases