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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fair Food Forum at Coburg Farmers Market discusses agriculture and food security

Originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Climate Action Moreland members ventured to the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday to shop, to chat with other Moreland residents about climate change, collect signatures on the Monster climate petition, and listen to candidates for the State Election in November 2014 speak at the Fair Food Forum.

Food security and agriculture are important subjects which we should all be aware of and asking our political representatives about.

Fair Food Week – 10 to 19 October – is organised by Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). Michael Croft, AFSA President, described the occasion as “Fair Food Week encourages the general community to embrace local food production, purchase and consumption.”

All candidates for the seats of Brunswick and Pascoe Vale who had so far committed to stand were invited to speak, however the Liberal candidate for Brunswick cancelled the night before, Jane Garrett, Labor MP for Brunswick refused to attend, and Lizzie Blandthorn, Labor candidate for Pascoe Vale although originally agreeing to come then reneged and instead handed out red balloons and launched the Batman market near the Batman railway station.

But the forum went ahead with the Greens candidates Liam Farelly and Tim Read, Dean O'Callaghan from Save the Planet and Sean Brocklehurst from Socialist Alliance.

I am really astounded that both major parties refused to send anyone along to this forum. Food and agriculture is so important in our lives, and yet both the Liberal and Labor parties could not bother to provide some-one to represent their party and policies in this area. Climate change is already affecting agriculture from long and intense droughts, changes to rainfall patterns, more extreme weather events, and of course rising temperatures affecting crop yield and milk production.

The forum was written up at Nofibs with videos of the four speakers. For more detail read the article: Labor and Liberal no show at #vicvotes Coburg Fair Food Forum

Both Greens candidates addressed the issue of Food Security and climate change and the lack of competitive regulation with the Coles and Woolworths duopoly.

“Food production is no longer considered the domain of feeding us people, it is considered a commodity which is to be traded. Combine that with the duopoly of the retail industry, between ‘ColesWorth’, and now we have a scenario where food is actually being produced for the sake of the export markets at the risk of local sustainability.” said Farelly. He also detailed some of his family history originating in the Irish potato famine with his ancestors emigrating to Australia where they settled into farming in the Western District of Victoria.” said Liam Farelly, a psychologist and local resident.

Dr Tim Read highlighted the fuel used in the transport of food, “It is an environmental cost as well as a financial one. We have a very petrol dependent food supply chain and it has been made worse by successive governments – the Brumby government and the current Liberal Government – in moving the wholesale fruit and Veggie market out to Epping, well away from any rail links where it is just a giant truck parking bays. It is a wonderful great big new market, but there is not a rail line in sight. The whole thing is geared around freeways. As we know with the price of liquid fossil fuels rising sharply, they’ll be wanting to build a rail link out there one day or move the market again. The Greens will go through every step of the food supply chain and make it sustainable, and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels…”

Sean Brocklehurst from Socialist Alliance also raised relevant food justice issues in his talk focusing on community need not corporate greed.

Sean Brocklehurst stressed the need for food justice: “I am running on a platform of community need not corporate greed…. In Australia we have a market duopoly. We have the Coles and Woollies duopoly over agriculture, over food distribution, and food production which has squeezed out small farmers, made them unable to get a good price for their produce, and also squeezed out small shopkeepers…” he said. “Our priority should be towards sustaining natural resources.”

He was the only speaker to raise opposition to genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) at the forum.

Dean O'Callaghan from Save the Planet Party also spoke:

Save the Planet Party argue that we are already in a climate emergency that requires substantial emergency social response. By providing and advocating radical action to address climate change, it helps to paint the Greens in a more moderate mainstream light.

Read a full account at Nofibs: Labor and Liberal no show at #vicvotes Coburg Fair Food Forum reports @Takvera

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