By KATE BANVILLE
A NATIONAL food assurance summit geared at showcasing Australia’s high quality food standards and influencing policy has attracted star power, with high profile environment educators among those presenting.
Attendees of the Freshcare Australian Assurance Summit event will hear from Logie award winner and Gardening Australia presenter Costa Georgiadis, who has grown a career from his love of nature, plant health and advocating for sustainability.
His speech is one of a handful by prominent sustainability advocates including Craig Reucassel – best known for his award-winning ‘War on Waste’ documentary – who will set the summit’s tone where a range of industry pinch points will be dissected during panel discussions.
Freshcare boasts of its ‘user-friendly’ resources and training for the fresh produce and wine grape industries to ensure farming practices meet food quality standards.
A self declared advocate for Australia’s fresh produce industry and the farmers working to feed the nation, Freshcare CEO Jane Siebum (pictured below) said the conference would elevate their voices while also inviting consumers and policy makers to the table.
“Assurance impacts every step of our fresh produce and wine supply chain, from paddock – to pallet – to plate,” Siebum said.
“Our job is to make sure frameworks are credible and support our farmers to use them.
“They’re the key to making sure that things like greenwashing don’t occur, to make sure that the certificates that are issued are valid.
“Anybody who tells me that farmers are wasteful with water or chemicals, I’ll push back and point out they’re unlikely to be in business next week because all that does is drain money.
“So it’s about creating a dialogue to better understand each step of farming today, but with a focus on the future.”
Australian grown produce ends up on tables around the world with exports to more 50 global markets and Australia is among the most food secure nations in the world.
Despite this, there are ongoing challenges ahead with the cost of labour, cardboard packaging, freight, fertiliser and power prices continuing to soar, all while prices for farmers have barely budged in three decades.
Siebum said the summit program had been designed to spark conversation and ‘a sharing of ideas’ with wide ranging topics including food safety, supply chain vulnerabilities, environmental considerations, export markets and consumer expectations.
She said striking a healthy balance of productivity, profitability and sustainable practices in a global economy should be seen as an opportunity to future proof Australia’s food production through collaboration.
“We’re actually working with Stop Food Waste Australia to create the environmental authority for the horticulture waste elements that are going to go into our standard,” she said.
“Every industry has to implement them so it’s about getting comfortable with documenting the good practices farmers already do and them understanding that we are partners and we are here to help them achieve what they need to achieve.”
The Caller will have comprehensive coverage of the National Assurance Summit, which starts tomorrow.
*Freshcare kindly covered travel and accommodation costs in order to help Country Caller report on the Assurance Summit.