FOOD SYSTEMS AND THE ROLE OFLOCAL GOVERNMENTThis document aims to assist local governments in Victoria to develop a coordinated andequitable approach to optimising food systems. This has become critical at a time wheninternational commitments to local food systems are growing, and yet in Australiacorresponding commitments from higher tiers of government are lagging. Advocating forstate and federal action to improve health and wellbeing is a core responsibility of localgovernments. To support them in this task, the paper offers clear and easily citeableposition statements on three fundamental challenges: Health and Wellbeing, EconomicDevelopment, and Planning.MAY 2017Nick Rose, SUSTAINAdrian H. Hearn, University of MelbournePieta Bucello, Cardinia Shire CouncilAnnemaree Docking, City of WhittleseaSophie Jamieson, Right to Food CoalitionPeter Kenyon, North East HealthSebastian Klein, Hepburn Shire Council (Mayor)Linda Martin-Chew, Plan-It RuralLaura Newstead, Nourish, Outer East Primary Care PartnershipKathi Orsanic-Clark, City of YarraSarah Saxton, Mornington Peninsula Shire CouncilClare Schultz, Central Hume Primary Care PartnershipLee Tozzi, City of DarebinCindy Tran, University of MelbourneNarelle Weber, Conservation Volunteers Australia and New ZealandLuigi Zarro, Yarra Ranges Shire CouncilSuggested citation:Rose, Nick and Adrian H. Hearn. 2017. Food Systems and the Role of Local Government. Melbourne: SUSTAIN.

Executive SummarySeveral emerging challenges have made it necessary to enhance Victoria’s food systems.Drawing on consultations with local government, community groups, academic researchers,and industry, this document identifies three overarching challenges and proposes stepstoward overcoming them. The challenges, outlined in three position statements, are (1)Health and Wellbeing, (2) Economic Development, and (3) Planning. While each of thesespheres of activity carries unique implications for the optimisation of Victorian foodsystems, as a group the three reflect several drivers of change and potentials forimprovement: Diet and food retail environment. As Melbourne’s population grows toward an estimated7 million people by 2050, residents’ proximity to fresh food impinges directly on healthoutcomes. The commercial availability—and viability—of nutritious food represents anemerging opportunity for economic growth, but realising this potential will require moreresponsive planning regulations to ensure consumer choice and fair prices. Food security. By the FAO’s definition, citizens are food secure when they experience“physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.” To ensurefood security, citizens must be aware of the health implications of their food choices, livein contexts where economic development is achieved through a blend of rural and urbanfarming, and have access to land through locally engaged council planning. Social and cultural inclusion. Twenty percent of Victorians are from non-English speakingbackgrounds (more than any other Australian state). Long recognised as a socialdeterminant of health, inclusion of linguistically and culturally diverse groups encourageseconomic entrepreneurship and civic participation in local governance and planning. The changing dynamics of food production. According to the Australian Bureau ofStatistics, the percentage of farmers under the age of 35 was 28 percent in 1981 but isonly 13 percent today. Agriculture is not economically viable for more than 70 percent ofAustralian farmers, generating social and mental health pressures in rural towns anddemonstrating the need for more comprehensive whole-of-government approaches tofood systems planning.The paper’s three position statements examine these drivers of change and offersuggestions for advocating policies to address them. It is the authors’ collective hope thatpolicy advisors, Councils and the broader public will find these suggestions accessible andeasy to accommodate within their own research and advocacy projects. As safe, healthy,and culturally appropriate nutrition becomes internationally recognised as a “right to food”(see Appendix 2), Victorian local governments are positioned to lead the way to morediversified and fair food systems. Above all this paper argues that greater awareness of foodand nutrition as drivers of Health and Wellbeing, Economic Development, and Planning is acritical step toward this goal.2

CONTENTS. 1FOOD SYSTEMS AND THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT . 1Executive Summary . 2Introduction . 5About this paper . 5Applying a food systems lens: the Circles of Food approach . 6The Circles of Food methodology. 7HEALTH AND WELLBEING POSITION STATEMENT . 8DRIVERS OF CHANGE . 8Diet and food retail environment . 9Food security . 9Social Inclusion . 9Policy context . 10CRITICAL ISSUES . 11Subsidiarity issues . 11Capacity and funding issues . 11Rural issues . 11Policy issues . 11Food Production issues. 11Food consumption issues . 12Systemic issues. 12ADVOCACY . 12GUIDELINES/BEST PRACTICES . 13CASE STUDIES . 13ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POSITION STATEMENT . 14CRITICAL ISSUES . 15ADVOCACY . 15Focus: Agribusiness roles in Local Government . 16GUIDELINES / BEST PRACTICE . 17CASE STUDIES . 17PLANNING POSITION STATEMENT . 183

DRIVERS OF CHANGE . 18Population Growth . 19Climate Change . 19Market and rates pressures on farmers . 19Policy context . 19CRITICAL ISSUES . 20Social cohesion, energy and resource efficiency . 20Food security: vacant land for food production . 20Right to farm . 20Fast food outlet concentration . 20Urban agriculture . 21ADVOCACY . 21GUIDELINES / BEST PRACTICE . 21CASE STUDIES . 21REFERENCES / FURTHER READING . 22Appendix A: Urban and Regional Food Declaration . 24Appendix B – Right to Food in Australia: Position Statement of the Right to Food Coalition, April2016 . 324

IntroductionAustralia’s food system is based on an agricultural and economic paradigm whose pursuit ofenhanced productivity, economies of scale, improved efficiencies and consumer convenience hasgenerated fragilities. Rationalisation, consolidation and capital intensive production means fewerfarmers on the land, higher levels of farm debt, and resulting stress, depression and suicide amongfood producers. Other consequences include the hollowing out of rural and regional communities,reduced employment opportunities and corrosion of social capital, as well as greater environmentalimpacts and contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Cheap and convenient food for consumers,delivered by a retail environment that in many communities privileges fast food over healthy foodretail outlets by a factor of four, five or six to one, has produced a pandemic of obesity in which dietis the major cause of disease and early death. When direct and indirect costs are counted, someexperts put the total expense impact as high as 56 - 130 bn per year, which equates to as much as3.5 to 8 percent of the country’s GDP. 1This is a shocking and unsustainable figure, all the more so when one considers that merely 1.5% ofthe 161 billion spent by Australian governments on health in 2014-15 was spent on prevention, farless than New Zealand (6.4%), Finland (6.1%) and Canada (5.9%).2 These outcomes are enabled bypolicy settings and planning frameworks that often prevent local governments from taking intoaccount health and wellbeing and environmental considerations when making decisions ondevelopment applications for the opening of new fast food franchise outlets. The lack of spending onprevention and food literacy is compounded by the absence of any controls on the ability of fastfood companies to advertise their products to children and youth. Moreover, the continuedexpansion of our major cities means that we are losing much of our best soils and farmland toresidential and commercial development, putting the resilience of our food system and our futurefood security at risk.About this paperThis paper is the synthesis report of a Food Governance Taskforce (FGT), formed at the initiative ofSustain and the Victorian Local Governance Association in 2016, following the Democratising FoodSystems workshop held at William Angliss Institute on 19 October 2015. 3 The FGT is a multiinstitutional action-oriented taskforce, with a volunteer local government membership, formed withthe intention of supporting local government in Victoria to be an enabler of food system change thatsupports health and wellbeing, environmental and economic development outcomes. The Taskforcemet four times from April - August 2016 with the participation of 13 Councils, and continued its workin October-December 2016 v