Supporting our Farmers and Protecting Our Food Supply Near Our Cities

 

So the theme of this session is to protect land to grow food and before I introduce our wonderful group of speakers I wanted to just provide a little bit of context around the theme locally, regionally and nationally. Cardinia Shire is considered an interface council with 70% of the land in Cardinia classified as rural and 30% of that is urban which is along the Princes Highway group corridor where we see a very, very rapid development. We’ve heard this morning that there are two or four and five families arriving in this area every day, so very rapidly changing population, and as Melbourne expands, it’s literally expanding across our food bowl. So the farmlands here in Cardinia go from here to the hills, the Dandenong Rangers, down to Western Port Bay. It’s very important to the economy both at our local level and also our national level and so that was a very significant asset for Cardinia Shire of over 30,000 acres of viable farming land, and it’s a natural resource that once we lose this resource we’re not going to get it back. We’re going to have urbanization in this area on our food bowl. We’re going to have small gardens or concrete. So the pressure is really on local farmers and for family farms to survive. We really don’t want them just to be limited to this urban area. Declining terms of these, corporatization of agribusiness and distribution, aging farming populations, debt, increasing in food and operational cost we can see it all happening making it very difficult for farmers. And we know that farmer numbers are dropping fairly rapidly. 40 percent in the last 13 years and in 2015 alone we lost 25% of our small-scale vegetable farmers. So our panel today are going to offer a range of perspectives on addressing this issue.

 

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