Tag Archives: food security

Welcome to Sydney Food Fairness Alliance

Posted on 09. Mar, 2013 by .


The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance  (SFFA) is a network of consumers, rural producers, health professionals, community workers and advocates who want to see food security for all within a socially, economically and environmentally sustainable food system.

2013 promises to be a busy year for SFFA with the release of the Federal Govt <em>National Food Plan</em> due, and the alternative ‘ grass roots’ <em>People’s Food Plan</em> launched by the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance. SFFA will play an active role in the discussion about what kind of food future we want and how we need to shape it now. Join us to be part of it!


We will:

  • Continue support for farmers, in the face of threats by CSG and supermarket price fixing
  • Explore the role that local councils can play in promoting food security and food access
  • Lobby for increases in income support payments to help the 1-2 million Australians who go hungry
  • Showcase challenging ideas, stimulating discussions and examples of great ways to work round food


Members include people working in sectors such as:

  • health and aged care
  • community services and welfare
  • local government
  • urban planning
  • agriculture and primary industries
  • community gardens, Permaculture and organic food industries and organisations
  • food and hospitality industries
  • media
  • education
  • ethicists and religious organisations
  • concerned and interested individuals


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What a great success!

Posted on 26. Sep, 2012 by .


The recent event “Sustainable Farming for a Sustainable City” held at Richmond was a great success! So thank you to all of you who helped with organising, promoting, and attending the event.  Over 130 people came to be part of a very engaged discussion.

A very special thanks to Liz Millen and Vivienne Reiner (both from SFFA) to bring all their support to the event.

Here is the link to the ABC Radio interview of Fred Haskins from NSW Farmers Association commenting on the challenges of city fringe farming.

Watch the videos of some of the keynote speakers.

Maarten Stapper’s presentation  makes the link between food systems, health and the importance of things such as community gardens in bringing back respect for the food and environment.

Julia McKay is Secretary of the national body of the Natural Sequence Association (NSA), is a lawyer, a farmer and a Natural Sequence Farming (NSF) practitioner.

We love to talk about Sustainable Sydney, but we don’t prioritise one of the mainstays of a sustainable city — our local, fresh and productive food supply.
Lynne Wilkinson — (Ausbuy) will put local food in the context of food security and food standards and ask the question: who do we want to feed us in the future?

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City-fringe farms crucial for food security

Posted on 14. Sep, 2012 by .


Safeguarding farms from urban sprawl and mining is crucial to minimise shortage-induced price hikes and to ensure we know our food is local and safe, a forum in Sydney’s premier food producing region will hear next week.

The forum will call for integrated state planning, a more inclusive national food plan and overseas purchase of land be subject to a national interest test.

It has been organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance (SFFA) and NSW Farmers’ Region 7 which covers the greater Sydney metropolitan area and hinterland, accounting for almost all the farms and market gardens providing fresh food for the city.

NSW Farmers’ spokesperson and Sydney farmer Fred Haskins says: “Australia is currently experiencing a fruit and vegetable shortage and will have to rely on imports for at least another couple of months because of frost in Queensland and flooding in Victoria. This brings increased  biosecurity challenges such as foreign crop diseases. Our city is increasingly less able to feed itself and unless the metropolitan strategy plans are reversed and we give more support to our farmers, we can expect more price rises as half of the numerous small Sydney farms disappear to make way for houses within two decades.”

Water system pioneer Peter Andrews, who created Natural Sequence Farming will headline the panel just weeks after the . Andrews, who will give insights into water retention and purity using natural processes says it is crucial that research into the long-term effect of mining and drilling into aquifers be mandated before mining operations commence. “As a result of the Hunter and Bylong Valley mining, I believe we will see a toxic plume through the groundwater all the way to Newcastle because it is connected. With deep groundwater changes could disrupt systems that have been in place for 10,000 years or more,” he says.

Department of Primary Industries’ Murray Spicer will detail extensive survey work by the Department on agricultural lands in NSW. “Because of urban expansion and consumer demand for unseasonal food, Sydneysiders are increasingly eating food from north Queensland down to Victoria and South Australia as the season progresses rather than from Sydney Basin farms, “ says Spicer, who is the Department’s horticultural program leader.

Biodynamic farming consultant/ex-CSIRO scientist Maarten Stapper, from Canberra, will highlight the environmental and health imperatives for moving to a more sustainable farming model with less reliance on finite resources such as fuel, chemicals and synthetic fertilisers in a climate-affected and carbon pricing environment.

AusBuy CEO Lynne Wilkinson will stress the importance of knowing where our food comes from and supporting Australian agriculture and our relatively high food standards and land management. “There are chemicals still used overseas that are banned here which Australia no longer tests for because of budget cuts. So, increasingly we have to rely on the word of the people selling us their food. We are also diminishing our ability to produce our own food because of sales of agricultural land overseas. In Western Australia for example, Chinese interests are producing milk for their domestic consumption.”

For more info go to the event page and download the flyer with the details.

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Science does not support the super trawler!

Posted on 11. Sep, 2012 by .


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish: science doesn’t support the super trawler

By Jessica Meeuwig, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published at The Conversation.  Read the original article.

While fisheries science is more complex than Dr. Seuss’ iconic title implies, he had it right in two fundamental areas. We need to understand the species we are exploiting in our fisheries (red vs. blue) and we need to know how many there are. The science case for introducing a trawler to exploit southern small pelagics is weak in both these areas. As such, it does not support the introduction of super trawling in Australia.

The target species for this greatly expanded fishery include blue mackerel, jack mackerel, Peruvian jack mackerel and redbait. They are repeatedly referred to as “small pelagics”, “forage fish” , and “baitfish”.

Such labelling conjures teeming schools of Peruvian anchoveta and Atlantic herring associated with the highly productive waters of South American and South African western margins and of the North Sea. These recognised forage species share a set of life-history characteristics, such as high growth rates, low maximum age, and high reproductive output: they pursue the quintessential “live fast, die young” strategy. These characteristics increase their resiliency to exploitation, but aren’t enough to prevent their over-exploitation in the face of highly efficient industrialised fishing such as super trawling.

The “small pelagics” targeted by the super trawler do not share these resiliency characteristics. Our “small pelagics” are typically twice as large in maximum length as typical forage species (63 vs 33 cm), have a maximum life span 60% longer (21 vs 13 years), feed higher up the food chain, and grow 30% more slowly (0.17/year vs 0.62/year). Indeed, these characteristics make them statistically more similar to reef fish such as baldchin groper, recognised as over-exploited. It is unclear how the robust recommendations from the Forage Fish Task Force apply to non-forage species. We should not be treating these animals as a highly productive resource on which we experiment with super trawlers, but rather as valuable wildlife in Australia’s low-productivity southern oceans.

Some are concerned about the potential for localised depletions when super trawlers are active. To address those concerns, we need to understand how local populations are replenished by young fish across the region and whether adults can replenish depleted areas. There is increasing evidence that the adults of many species are not as mobile as previously thought.

But we are largely ignorant about the effective population structure of these species. Of the four species considered for exploitation, the population structure of blue mackerel is uncertain, and jack mackerel and redbait are believed to have eastern and western subpopulations. No dedicated population studies have been conducted on redbait nor is any information available for Peruvian jack mackerel. Moreover, little is reported about adult movements of any of these species except that larger jack mackerel are found in deeper waters.

The total allowable catch of approximately 18,000 tonnes is a 10-fold increase over previous years’ landings. In setting it, the Government is relying on its ability to determine the un-fished biomass; that is, its ability to count fish. But its estimates are generally based on old information (in the east, blue mackerel information is from 2004), inferred from other species (for jack mackerel in the east) or entirely absent (for jack mackerel in the west, Peruvian jack mackerel in the west, and redbait in the west). It is likely that biomass estimates (and associated quotas) are much more uncertain than is currently reported. Indeed, ABARES assessments of population status are based on fishing effort rather than actual population size.

Australia’s relatively strong fisheries management has been cited as a reason why this experimental fishery expansion should occur. This is despite our poor understanding of the species and the high uncertainty in population sizes. Fisheries scientists and managers around Australia are to be commended on the quality of their research, particularly given the large number of targeted species, the relatively low value of many of the fisheries, and the consequent budget constraints for research.

But we should also consider salutary lessons. For example, the Western rock lobster fishery experienced unexpected and unprecedented low levels of recruitment in 2008 and 2009, despite the wealth of research conducted on the species and despite its Marine Stewardship Council certification. Fisheries management is difficult and should be highly conservative in its approach. The proposed allowance of an 18,000 tonne annual quota is not.

There are many other reasons not to allow super trawling including concerns over bycatch in substantially larger nets, low economic returns (reportedly of $1/kg) for a valuable resource, uncertainty around the effects of a warming ocean on fisheries productivity, and dependencies of other wildlife on these species. But even at the most basic level, the scientific case is not strong enough.

The Conversation


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The End Hunger Report from Foodbank

Posted on 22. Aug, 2012 by .


Filling in the picture on hunger in Australia

Beyond the alarming topline figures, very little is known about the depth and breadth of food insecurity in Australia. With its first report on hunger in Australia, Foodbank shines a light on this often hidden problem.   Based on the results of a comprehensive survey of welfare agencies the report highlights the food needs of those relying on food relief in Australia.

The report is a call to action and you can download it at http://www.foodbank.org.au/hunger-in-australia/the-endhunger-report/



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Our Last SFFA Public Talk – Food Security in France

Posted on 01. Aug, 2012 by .



Talk presented by Brigit Busicchia  (Macquarie University) who had just returned from 3  months in France.


To talk about food security in France is also to talk about food security in Australia as it may highlight different understandings of what food is and should be, as it may bring our attention to the relationship between farmers and the state, and as it may offer a different model to fight food insecurity.

 There are many dimensions to the issue of food security but for the purpose of this talk, some key policy initiatives in the areas of production and consumption of food were be presented.

 This talk began with the ongoing debate about farm subsidies in Europe and how the French government has reformed its agricultural sector by incorporating the concept of multifunctionality of agriculture into its legislation. It also presented the French government position on coal seam gas mining.

 Food manufacturing and processing are important sectors of the food economy. The government has had problems in controlling the health and nutrition outcomes of this sector and these aspects were discussed and in particular, key intiatives put in place by the government in an attempt to regulate food related health conditions.

 Food security is also about affordability and some key policy responses to food price inflation and food relief assistance were presented. 

 And finally we cannot talk about food production and consumption without talking about food wastage.


When:     Monday 6 August 2012 at 6pm.

Where:  St Andrew House between St Andrew’s Cathedral and Town Hall, George St., Sydney



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Crops hit by drought and biofuel policy: another food price crises

Posted on 31. Jul, 2012 by .



Important article by SFFA member Brigit Busicchia.   Brigit is a research student at Macquarie University and has just returned from France.

 ”Crops hit by drought and biofuel policy: another food price  crisis?




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