GrainGrowers welcomes the opportunity to participate in the House Standing Committee on Agriculture’s Inquiry into Food Security in Australia.
GrainGrowers is a voice for Australian grain farmers with individual grower members across the country. We work to build a more profitable and sustainable grains industry for the benefit of Australian grain farmers, through our focus areas of policy and advocacy, grower engagement, thought leadership and active investment in future focused activities for all growers. Australian growers are at the heart of all that we do and the focus of our work. We are a powerhouse of regional Australia with 22,500 farm businesses growing around 43 million tonnes of grains, oilseeds and pulses each year for domestic and global customers.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines food security as:
“When all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
As a crucial source of nutritious household staples such as bread, pasta and noodles, the Australian grain industry is a critical component of food security both within Australia and internationally.
As a result of Australia’s strong domestic agricultural production, Australia has historically been considered one of the most food secure countries in the world, with domestic grain production exceeding domestic demand even during periods of extended drought.
Indeed, Australia exports approximately 70 per cent of agricultural production and only imports 11 per cent of total food, largely due to consumer preferences rather than necessity.
However, there has previously been little formal examination of the broader risks to agricultural production supply chains within previous reviews of food security. Previous reviews have instead largely focused on the ability of food to be transported to consumers rather than potential risks for food production itself.
As this paper will explore, the recent events of COVID-19 and climate-related disasters such as floods, have demonstrated the increasing vulnerabilities of Australia’s agricultural production supply chains. As we enter a period of immense structural, economic and climatic disruption, it is critical the Commonwealth Government acts to ensure Australia’s continued food security.