National summit part of $68.4 million boost to agriculture traceability
The Federal Government has announced plans to hold a national summit as part of a $68.4 million bid to shore up agriculture traceability throughout Australia, and increase access to premium overseas markets.
The announcement also detailed plans to establish a “national agriculture traceability alliance” and a “national virtual traceability hub”.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said while Australia already had strong traceability systems in place — particularly around food safety, origin and biosecurity — they could be made stronger with a national approach.
“(The alliance) will bring industry groups, research bodies, State and Territory bodies and governments together,” he said.
Mr Littleproud said the summit would allow those stakeholders to meet and share ideas, while the hub would keep industry up to date with consumer trends, develop national data standards, and take advantage of new technologies.
“The hub will be a way for government and industry groups to work together to create successful traceability projects that will deliver financial benefits to our farmers,” he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment said details regarding when the alliance and hub would be established, and how they would operate, were still being settled.
Details about the national summit — including where and when it would be held — would be “released in due course”.
“The summit will provide an important opportunity to kickstart this traceability agenda, bringing together stakeholders from across the country to share ideas and map out a shared approach,” the spokesman said.
“We will be guided by stakeholder views in relation to how best to bring governments and industry together to take this work forward, following the summit.”
Mr Littleproud said investing in traceability could add up to $1 billion a year to the bottom lines of Australian farmers who could demonstrate provenance, sustainability or organics.
For example, certified grass fed beef attracts an extra $1/kg in the US market, of which half is returned to the producer.
“Traceability systems will continue to show consumers that our products are safe, clean and meet sustainability standards,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Customers have shown they are willing to pay more for a product that can meet provenance and sustainability standards so our farmers will get a better price for their product.
“On the other side of the coin, by using the latest technology and data we are helping our farmers reduce their costs of production.”
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the Federal Government had not approached the State Government for additional funding, though they were keen to work together.
“Building a stronger national traceability system will help to improve transparency for WA products on a global stage, and validate our reputation as a producer of premium food that is safe, nutritious and has an acceptable carbon footprint,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“We will work with the Federal Government to ensure that national data standards, traceability mechanisms and requirements, and other opportunities benefit our export-oriented agricultural sector.”
The funding will also go towards a series of grants to promote uptake and development of new technology.
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