A BLUEPRINT for Australia's food production is calling for 80 per cent of food to be sourced and processed within 150km of consumption.The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance released its People's Food Plan in September.
The alliance represents some organic farmers, market networks, consumer and health groups and emphasises the importance of local production and consumption.
Alliance president and Canberra farmer Michael Croft said the plan had been prompted by "deficiencies'' in the Federal Government's National Food Plan.
"This is for the common good of all Australians,'' Mr Croft said.
"I was told by my neighbours years ago that I couldn't make a living off a 200-acre (81ha) farm 30km from Canberra, and they were right. The issue in this country is that farmers need to get big or get out.
"But it shouldn’t be that way and I started selling direct to consumers, cutting out the middle men.
"Now I get $14 a kilo for my mince instead of $1.50.''
Mr Croft said rising fuel prices and growing awareness of the carbon emissions from agriculture would drive the changes outlined in the plan.
"There is a genuine call for the re-localisation of food,'' Mr Croft said.
"There are real losers in the current system, you just have to look at the obesity situation.
"These issues are not dealt with adequately in the national food plan.
"It's more focused on making Australia the food bowl of Asia, but we need to be our own food bowl first.''
Mr Croft said community food hubs were the best way to manage produce distribution and Victoria was leading the way.
"If you spend $1 in your local community, 80 cents stays there, but if you buy something that is grown inside but purchased outside, only 20 cents stays in that community,'' he said.
"The current food plan has seen rural Australia ruined, leaving behind ghost towns.
"This needs to change.''
The alliance wrote a letter to Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig discussing these issues, signed by 110 organisations representing 500,000 people.
Australian Made chief executive Ian Harrison said the importance of local production and consumption was paramount, but it was critical to keep a national perspective.
"We have an infrastructure in place now, including local markets and specialist food networks, that provides for consumers who are passionate about eating something that has been grown within a short distance from where they live, and there are restaurants who cleverly supplement that,'' Mr Harrison said.
"Australia is a very big country, with most people living along the coastline, so growers in states like Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania that have low populations and are geographically separate from the major population centres therefore have to sell their produce outside that 150km radius.
"Furthermore, produce that grows very well in one state often can't be grown in others, so we need to account for that.
"Pushing local consumption to this extreme is really up to consumers.''