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PacificEdge | March 28, 2017

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Sydney meeting puts AFSA on food advocacy map

Russ Grayson

Citizens, community organisations, small farmers, food advocacy and eduction organisations, heath interests, small business and social enterprise working in food production, distribution and waste management have a new voice in Australia now that the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA) has taken steps to set itself up as a formal agency.

AFSA started life immediately prior to the last federal election in reaction to the federal government proposal to develop a national food policy. With the potential for such a policy to influence the types of food people eat, their quality and origin, a letter was sent to the minister proposing representation on any food policy board for small business, small farmer and community organisations. This produced a response by the then-minister suggesting that such opportunity would come in any consultative process regarding the proposed policy and policy team. AFSA is concerned that any such team set up by the government will include only agribusiness interests.

Last Thursday’s meeting, held at Randwick Community Centre thanks to access to facilities being made available by Randwick City Council, brought people from Sydney, the Hunter region, northern NSW, Central West NSW, the ACT, Brisbane and Melbourne. Some from Adelaide who were interested in attending could not make it as was the situation of others from Melbourne. Facilitation was by a participant from the University of Sydney.

Proceedings were notable for their smoothness and the collaboration of diverse interests including small food businesses, sustainability and permaculture education, a couple from local government, a couple from the GMO lobby, farming, academia, the church and social enterprise working in food distribution. Considerable advocacy skill is present in the group, with some having decades of experience in this area.

Ryall Gorden from Nourishing Newcastle.

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What came out of the day was a direction and set of tasks to enact it. A Skype meeting is planned, as is a national convergence themed around food sovereignty.

This is a positive development that has the potential to bring together all of the interests mentioned above.

Lunch and morning/afternoon teas were by O Organics.

Robert Pekin and Emma-Kate Rose from Food Connect Foundation in Brisbane.

Nick Rose from northern NSW documents ideas.

Dr Stuart Hill, who started the social ecology course.

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