Victorian food security

Updated: 19/06/2008

May 20, 2008, by Daniel Palmer

Hidden environmental costs could make food production more vulnerable than previously thought and we should prepare for rising food prices to continue.

A new report (1208kb) explores threats and opportunities in Victorian food systems from production to consumption, paddock to plate.

The report calls for an immediate transition to food systems that regenerate Victorian soil and water resources, can cope with unpredictable and changing climate conditions, and provide affordable food to all Victorians.

The ability for Victoria to feed itself in the decades ahead has been questioned and follows similar findings in Western Australia where fears for the future of their food industry have been growing this year.

Lead author Kirsten Larsen, based at the University of Melbourne, says food production will be increasingly challenged by changing climate, dwindling supplies of cheap oil and declining water and soil resources.

What has become patently clear is that major innovations – well beyond efficiency improvements in existing food production – are needed, and soon, if we are to have good food to feed all Victorians and to meet export demands.

We have major gaps in knowledge about Victorian and Australian food systems that we must address

Strategies ranging from precision farming to urban food production provide glimpses of future food systems, but Victoria needed to carefully consider all approaches – old and new – to actively plan for and design sustainable and secure food systems.

There is an urgent need to act. Environmental risks and resource constraints are already undermining our ability to increase food production and are reducing access to healthy and affordable food.

The report is not welcome news as food prices are already on a rapid incline and fears of a global food shortage have become commonplace in some areas of the world.

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