The Federal Government’s failure to allocate new funds for a National Food Plan in Wednesday's Federal Budget was disappointing, the Australian Food and Grocery Council says.
The Budget contained no extra funding for developing a broad-based National Food Plan, which is vital for Australia's largest manufacturing industry – food and grocery – to have a long-term, strategic focus to ensure Australia has a safe, nutritious and sustainable food supply into the future.
AFGC chief executive Kate Carnell said industry was expecting a White Paper to be released in the next month or so and had pinned its hopes on allocation of more money for the implementation for the Food Plan over the next 12 months.
Ms Carnell said industry welcomed the Government’s commitment to fast-track skilled overseas migration to regional areas through a boost to the migration scheme of 6000 places to 16,000 in 2010-11.
“Increasing skilled migration is a very real problem for the agriculture and food manufacturing industries, especially gaining appropriate people all way through the food and grocery supply chain,” Ms Carnell said.
The establishment of the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) and a $558 million investment over four years in regional training programs would benefit Australia’s food and grocery manufacturers who employ 288,000 Australians – half of which were in rural and regional areas, she said.
Ms Carnell said the Government’s significant Budget allocations in roads, ports and freight infrastructure across Australia would help industry including major highway upgrades.
“Road and freight infrastructure is fundamental for getting food products from farm to factory to market, whether the market is in Australia or overseas,” Ms Carnell said.
Industry also applauded the Government’s commitment to finalise the National Freight strategy and develop an implementation strategy.
“Industry believes it is essential to have a nationally consistent set of regulations in the transport sector to streamline Australia’s supply chain networks,” Ms Carnell said.