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Australian Co-op Body Urges Repatriation of Food Processing for Domestic Self-Sufficiency

By emphasizing the importance of onshore food processing and promoting the role of co-operatives, the BCCM hopes to secure Australia's food security and contribute to the growth and sustainability of regional and rural communities across the nation.

Shivam Dwivedi
Australian Co-op Body Urges Repatriation of Food Processing for Domestic Self-Sufficiency (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Australian Co-op Body Urges Repatriation of Food Processing for Domestic Self-Sufficiency (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM) in Australia has made a compelling case for the country's food processing capability to be brought back onshore. BCCM CEO Melina Morrison highlighted the steady decline of Australian-owned agricultural supply chains and the increasing offshoring of food processing over the past three decades.

Speaking at a high-level agriculture roundtable in Lismore, New South Wales, Morrison emphasized the need to reverse this trend to secure access to food staples and foster local employment. The event, which drew representatives from various agricultural sectors including fisheries, dairy, alternative protein, horticulture, tanneries, and meat processing, aimed to address critical issues affecting the industry.

Morrison stressed that food supply represents a national security risk, especially during times of crisis. To tackle these challenges and raise awareness of the crucial role co-operatives have played for centuries in regional and rural Australia, the BCCM brought together agricultural co-ops from across the nation.

Australia boasts more than 2,000 agricultural co-ops and over 24,000 family farm owners. The Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, home to local anchor businesses such as Norco and Casino Food Co-op, generates a regional economic turnover of AU$1.5 billion and provides 3,000 direct jobs. However, the area is still recovering from the devastating flooding it experienced last year.

The National Agricultural Roundtable addressed a range of pressing issues including workforce availability, housing, supply chains, risk and insurance, cyber security, farmer wellbeing, social care, and the promotion of farmer-owned brands. Morrison emphasized that co-ops and mutual businesses often find themselves on the front line during economic and social crises, as well as natural disasters, showcasing the resilience of their unique business model.

The CEO highlighted the benefits of cooperation during the pandemic and recent flood disasters, underscoring the advantages of a co-operative approach in times of adversity. By rallying together and leveraging their collective strength, co-operatives can better navigate challenges and ensure the stability of vital sectors such as food processing.

As the BCCM continues to champion the cause of reversing offshoring in the Australian food processing industry, it aims to foster a collaborative environment that will lead to the creation of stronger, more resilient supply chains.

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