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National Food Plan approaches: Advocate good first step

23 May 2013

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government of a ‘Food and Beverage Supplier Advocate’ to help Australian agricultural businesses access new markets.

NFF President Duncan Fraser said the Advocate is a good first step in helping food businesses connect with new markets both at home and abroad.

“Maintaining our existing markets and creating new market opportunities is a major focus for Australian farmers, and something the NFF focuses on heavily both at home, through strengthening the supplier- retailer relationship, and overseas, through ensuring an even playing field in trade,” Mr Fraser said.

“While this Advocate will focus more on small to medium food processors and manufacturers, it will also have flow on effects back to the farming sector, providing greater opportunities for farmers to supply to these new markets,” Mr Fraser said.

The announcement precedes the launch of the National Food Plan on Saturday, a day after the NFF’s Blueprint for Australian Agriculture forum.

“On Friday, over 90 key leaders and decision makers from across the agricultural sector and its supply chain will gather in Canberra to identify the major priorities for a strong future for our sector, and to collectively drive the Blueprint forward,” Mr Fraser said.

“The very next day, the Government will release the National Food Plan, which has the potential to address many of the sector’s concerns about future food production and availability and the Government policies that underpin these.

“In our submission to the National Food Plan, we identified a number of areas that we believe must be addressed by the Plan – including collaboration between industry and Government on the creation of brands to promote Australian production.

“We also need to ensure that work is done beyond the farm gate to improve opportunities for farmers to sell their produce. We want to see greater investment in analysis of international markets, where two-thirds of our farm products ends up – identifying the barriers and solutions to existing markets and driving the development of new markets.

“And, in addition to understanding market drivers, investment in technical capacity is required to ensure these opportunities are translated into sales of produce, and we need to build relationships with our trading partners, including greater cultural awareness.

“We also want to see competitiveness and benchmarking tools to drive an increase in productivity across the supply chain, including a review of current regulation with the aim of reducing regulatory burden. We already know red tape is an issue for farmers – such a review would reveal its impact across the full supply chain.

“Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we believe it is crucial to improve consumers’ understanding and perception of agriculture and we have asked the Government to work with the sector and play a crucial coordination and communication role here.

“We await the release of the National Food Plan on Saturday with interest,” Mr Fraser said.

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