Australia should consider why we’re selling our precious soil

Food security and the selling off of Australia’s farmland to the highest bidder is finally starting to get some mainstream media attention:

Much of the dairying industry, from farm gate to supermarket shelves, was carved up by Japan, Europe and New Zealand over the previous decade. It all suggests that other countries are far more aware than Australia that food production, and the companies that support it, will become more valuable this century and beyond – especially in a world where population pressure and environmental degradation issues will make them more scarce.

”Food security” – a phrase rarely heard half a decade ago – is becoming a public issue. Politicians are scrambling to formulate policies, suggesting that their polling and talkback radio are reflecting public concerns.

Gingered by the Greens senator, Christine Milne, in the election campaign, the Labor minority government promised a National Food Plan ”from paddock to plate”, formally committing to it in the contract to secure government that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, signed with the independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

Blindly accepting “free trade” as the solution to all our problems is a fool’s game. And yet politicians on both major sides of politics bow to the religion of privatisation. We are starting to pay the price.