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How farmers and social movements could fix food policy

food vegetables mixed stock image

Many drought-stricken farmers across NSW have been calling for drought policy reform that factors in major environmental issues they face every day, such as climate change.

Joel Orchard is one of these farmers. Running a small peri-urban garden in Mullumbimby on the NSW North Coast, Joel says policymakers need to ensure the voices of farmers are heard.

“Farming has historically been such an individual and isolating pursuit,” he said. “It’s vital that we include the perspectives of farmers both at the policy and consumer education level.

“At the moment, many small-scale and agroecological farmers don’t have a say in the policies that make a difference to their own working lives.”

Joel will join international expert on food security, Dr Eric Holt-Giménez, and independent researcher Eva Perroni for a panel discussion at the University of Sydney.

The University of Sydney event, Building Food Utopias, will be co-presented with the Sydney Environment Institute and chaired by Dr Alana Mann from the Department of Media and Communications.

“Academics aren’t always the smartest people in the room when it comes to food policy,” Dr Mann said. “Policymakers and academics alike need to get better at listening to farmers.

“As more and more farmers leave the land because of the tough conditions, Australia’s food security is increasingly under threat.

“Australia’s grocery market is the second most concentrated in the world. Governments lack the political will to challenge the ‘Colesworth’ duopoly, despite claims from farmers that at the end of the day they are unlikely to cover their costs, let alone make a profit.”

In this context, social institutions and networks have an important role to play in filling this gap, said Dr Holt-Giménez, who is Executive Director of Food First in the U.S.

“As the food system has become privatised, our social institutions have become weakened. It’s in policy-makers best interests to strengthen them so that truly transformative (and effective) public policy is achieved.”

What: Building Food Utopias: Voice, Power and Agency
When: Wednesday 17 October 2018, 6pm – 7:30pm
Where: Law School Foyer, Level 2, Sydney Law School, Eastern Avenue

Source: USYD

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