Australians urged to calm the farm

By Jamieson Salter

Australians are being urged not to panic buy food and have been reassured that there are plenty of supplies to go around.

A new campaign led by Australian Farmers states buying patterns have changed, not the amount of food being grown.

The body said the behaviour change had put pressure on distribution of food and groceries in the final links of the supply chain.

In the NAB Rural Commodities Index, NAB Agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell said Australia’s place as a net exporter of food positioned the country well in terms of food security.

“Australia produces roughly enough food for 60 to 75 million people, with much of this output currently exported,” Mr Ziebell said.

“Domestically, panic-buying will bring forward demand for most agricultural products, with the exception of some speciality products destined for restaurants, which will likely be in surplus.”

However, the report listed two potential issues including horticulture labour requirements and imported chemicals and fertilisers being susceptible to any breakdown in trade flows.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians needed to stop bulk purchasing supplies.

“It's not sensible, it's not helpful and I've got to say it's been one of the most disappointing things I've seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis,” he said.

Federal Regional Development Minister Michael McCormack said food security in Australia was not an issue.

“Good farmers, they're telling us, they're telling me, and I'm telling you now, that farming production will continue,” he said.

“We will continue to grow food, whether it's sheep meat, whether it's grains, whatever the case might be, beef, rice, we'll continue to produce it and Australians don't need to go to their supermarkets and raid everything on the shelves.”