Consumers offer to share risks of Farming!

October 4, 2002

Lismore: Thursday, 4 October 2002: A report launched today presents a radical new vision for sustainable agriculture in Australia.

The report, by the Friends of the Earth, describes a vision of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which consumers purchase a share of the harvest up front, thereby sharing the risks of food production with farmers.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Kristen Lyons, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, and lecturer in the Sociology of Food and Agriculture at Griffith University said; "In normal circumstances, farmers wear all of the risks of production, so in time of drought as we have at the moment, consumers are oblivious to the plight of farmers who are struggling to survive. With Community Supported Agriculture, the people who benefit from the food also share the risks of production by paying a share of costs up-front, at the start of the growing season when farmers need it most."

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a rapidly growing movement in the US, Europe and Japan, and in the US alone there is between 800 and 1000 working CSA projects. This movement is now coming to Australia. CSA's involve the creation of a direct relationship between farmers and consumers, helping to make small farms more economically and environmentally sustainable, and helping consumers to reconnect with the source of their food.

"Small farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to remain viable as agriculture becomes more centralised and farmers need to compete in the global marketplace. At the same time, consumers are feeling increasingly alienated from their food and are turning back to farmersĀ¹ markets so they can know where their food comes from," Dr Lyons said.

"People are wanting to know where their food is produced, they want to know that it is safe to eat, and they want to know that it is not Genetically Engineered."

"CSA's go one step further than farmers markets because the consumers actually share the risks of farming, and develop an ongoing relationship with a farmer or a group of farmers. Any loss (or bounty) is shared equally by the people who benefit. By re-connecting people to the source of their food, and to the farmers that grow the food, CSA's can have a regenerative effect on both farming and urban communities alike" Dr Lyons concluded.

The report will be launched at 3 pm today at the "Local Global Organics" Australian Organic Conference 2002 in Lismore. Representatives from Friends of the Earth and farmers will hold a briefing for media to discuss the vision of Community Supported Agriculture, how it works in practice, and it's prospects in Australia.

WHEN: 3pm, Thursday, October 3rd
WHERE: B.F.A stall (media room TBA)
Southern Cross University, Military Road, East Lismore, NSW.

A 2 page summary of the report is available by phoning (07) 3846 5793. The summary and full report can be downloaded via the previous links.

For more information contact:

Kristen Lyons
Mob: 0415 927 378

Geoff Simmons
organic farmer, Yeppoon Qld
Ph: 07 4939 7991