The Conservation Council is calling for comments on their Discussion Paper: Towards an ACT Region Food Policy and Food Plan. The aim is to create a resilient ACT food system by: strengthening, and ensuring diversity within the local food economy to protect the community against potential shocks to the system (for example, oil or water shortages); and ensuring food supplies are adequate, accessible, affordable and nutritionally balanced. They want adoption of an ACT Food Policy and ACT Food Plan by the ACT Government with appropriate resourcing by 30 June 2016 and the target is 30% of food consumption to be sourced from ACT Region by 2030.
The Food Co-op will be making a submission of comments as per below. If you are a Food Co-op member and have any extra feedback, please leave it in the comments below. The submission will be sent to the Conservation Council on 30 June 2015.
RE: Conservation Council Food Policy Discussion Paper
Please find the following Food Co-op feedback on the Conservation Council Food Policy Discussion
1. Do we need an ACT Government Food Policy? Or are we OK with ad hoc measures?
Yes, we need an ACT Government Food Policy to ensure a secure, just and sustainable food system for the city. We all have a stake in our food system, and ad hoc measures are less likely to strengthen the food system for Canberra or address possible issues.
An ACT Government Food Policy should outline how the food system will take shape in the future and address the following issues:
- food security (including production, processing and distribution),
- resource management (including resource depletion, land degradation, water access, and waste management),
- health and food literacy (particularly the issue of obesity), and
- accessibility and resident empowerment (including just and equitable access and local economic empowerment).
2. Do we need a target? If yes, is 30% of food consumed sourced locally by 2030 too low or not ambitious enough?
Yes, a target will help lead the ACT region to a more resilient food system, protect against possible shocks to the system in the future, and enhance food security. A target is also necessary to measure results of the policy against.
The target should be an amount that can provide food security should other sources fail, therefore 30% may not be enough. Before determining an appropriate target, other questions must be answered:
- What is the definition of a local source?
- How wide is the local source region and what area does it cover?
- What is the consumption area for the ACT and is it the same as the source region?
- How is food and consumption measured? By weight? By kilojoule/calories consumed?
- What is the current amount of food consumed from local sources?
- What is the current amount of food consumed in the region in total?
- What is the current amount of food produced from local sources?
- How much food from the local region is exported vs imported?
3. What are your thoughts on the measures outlined here? Are they workable? Do you have any additional ideas?
Please see comments relating to each measure proposed:
- Education: This is key to the policy and an absolute necessity to encouraging more local food production and consumption, and generating positive health and well-being outcomes. More information required on what information would be provided and how (e.g. education on growing food, education on healthy food options, education on sustainability impacts of food production, consumption and waste). This should also include communication and promotion of the food policy and goals, or that could be a separate measure to enhance local knowledge and grow the knowledge base and level of food consumed from local sources.
- Revising zoning laws and regulations to allow for urban food production and growing one’s own food: agree this should be part of the policy and would help promote more local food production.
- Reducing food waste: this should be part of the policy to enhance security. More information required on how would this be implemented.
- Building supportive infrastructure: This would require more analysis before becoming part of the policy. It raises the following questions first: What current infrastructure is in place? Is the current infrastructure enough to meet the local food source target? Is there other infrastructure that could be used to meet the targets without having to build new infrastructure? If new infrastructure is required to meet the target, what is needed, how much would it cost, how long would it take, and what would be the net benefit over the life cycle? How best do we connect supply and demand?
- Research: This must be included in any policy. This is the first and most important step to developing the food policy and determining targets and requirements. Is there any current research or data in these areas, or would we require new research, data or reports?
- Resource expansion of farmers markets and community supported agriculture: This would assist with food security and the other goals of a food policy. What percentage of food consumed currently comes from farmers markets and CSA in the region? What percentage of food at farmers markets comes from local sources?
- Success will be measured by reporting on food consumption from local sources by 2030: See questions above about the goal and questions arising from it. Reporting should come much sooner than 2030, and depending on what is feasible, the target date could be sooner or later than 2030. Rolling targets may be best, with the first target date being by 2020.
- Support for local food sources: What do local food producers need in order to produce food to meet the target? Are there further regulation hurdles? Do they require economic assistance? Labour? Educational programs? What kind of education? What can be done to support local food producers?
- Reporting frameworks: Data needs to be gathered to determine what is feasible, what total local supply is what local demand is, and if there is a gap between the two. Research and data must also show how much food can be produced locally and whether it is enough to support the current population, we must know the limits.
4. Do we need infrastructure to facilitate local food production?
See comments above to question 3 in relation to infrastructure.
5. How does local food production sit with current majority food supply via supermarkets?
This is a great question that the food policy should address. How much, if any local food is distributed through the major supermarkets? The food policy should encourage more local food production and consumption to further food security, but external sources will still make up an important part of the regions food system and supply. This raises two questions. First, should supermarkets be a part of a food policy and sell locally produced food? Second, how much food could come from outside the local region while maintaining food security?