The 10-year anniversary of the Tasmanian tractor-powered Fair Dinkum Food Campaign was recognised today in the State’s vegetable growing heartland on the North West Coast.
Local growers and Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association members joined Fair Dinkum Food campaigner Richard Bovill, former TFGA Vegetable Council Chairman Ian Young, current TFGA Vegetable Council Chairman Nathan Richardson and TFGA President Wayne Johnston to mark the achievements of the Tasmanian industry in the fight to change the requirements of Australia’s country of origin labelling.
The 2005 campaign led to a number of immediate initiatives, including:
a federally-funded review of the industry;
a Tasmanian Government-funded workforce development program and promotion of Tasmanian vegetables; and
the VegVision strategic plan.
Mr Johnston said that, while it was important to celebrate milestones, it was even more vital that the State’s agricultural sector looked to the future.
“What we need to do now is focus on the bright future that lies ahead for our industry,’’ he said.
Last week the TFGA referred to the fact that the Australian Government, some ten years later, has made a move in the right direction to change the labelling requirements.
“We need to remember that’s how long progress can take – there’s no time to rest on our laurels,’’ Mr Johnston said.
“Ten years ago we were told that Australians would be guided by price before local loyalty. The past decade has shown us that shoppers do prefer to buy locally if they can easily identify the product’s origin. Price is still a factor, but people are far more aware.
“We have to keep the pressure on governments to support the Tasmanian and Australian brands, and we have to continue to press consumers to favour local produce. Buying locally not only supports local farmers, it supports local communities.”
The TFGA also believes that continued investment in agriculture and research and development is also vital.
“We need to collaborate to improve our efficiency, and therefore our cost price competitiveness,’’ he said.
“Our growers now need the confidence to tackle new and emerging markets head-on – to work with governments for a hand up, not a hand out – to ensure that our vegetable industry remains a viable and productive force for the Tasmanian economy.”
TFGA president Wayne Johnston