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Help local shoppers buy Australian-made food: Greens
30/07/2012 - Food labelling laws should be overhauled so shoppers can easily choose Australian-grown fruit and vegetables and other local produce, the Greens say. Melissa Jenkins
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Australian Greens leader Christine Milne says she plans to introduce a private member's bill in the Senate to make it easier for shoppers to buy food that is actually grown and made in Australia.
Currently, 'Made in Australia' labels were largely about where food is processed and packaged, she told the Rural Press Club in Melbourne on Friday
Senator Milne used the example of glace cherries that have an 'Australian Made and Owned' label — but are made from imported cherries that were processed here.
"Australians really want to buy Australian-made food," she told journalists.
"They find great difficulty in that, because they go to the supermarket and they pick up something and they don't know what it actually means."
Under the legislation to be introduced in the spring session of federal parliament, there would be a 'Made of Australian Ingredients' label requiring at least 90 per cent (by weight excluding water) of all ingredients to be Australian and a 'Grown in Australia' label for produce wholly grown here.
The 'Made in Australia' as a stand-alone claim for food would be dumped.
"I know people go up and down the aisle looking for tomatoes that are grown in Australia, for example, and find it pretty hard to find them on the supermarket shelves," she said.
"We can start with this."
Senator Milne said farmers were battling rising costs for water, fertiliser and fuel, while the Coles and Woolworths duopoly was putting downward pressure on farm-gate prices.
"You have got the farmer in the middle trying to produce and at both ends big business, if you like, squeezing constantly," she said.
"Is it any wonder that we now have an average age of farmers that is getting older and older and a real concern about how are we going to get younger people onto the land?"
She said Australian farmers were battling a flood of cheap imports.
"There are farmers on the northwest coast (of Tasmania) as I speak, ploughing in perfectly good carrots, for example, potatoes and so on because of the onslaught of cheap imports."
Senator Milne said the federal government's food plan, released earlier this month, favoured agribusiness over farmers and their families.
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Rod in Geelong | 30/07/2012 11:45 1
Good on you, Senator Milne. These are the sorts of Australian initiatives that the Greens should be pushing, instead of pushing value-less issues like same-sex marriages, etc. There are plenty of these pro-resource issues that need to be brought up, and this is the time for the Greens to do that.
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