Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne today announced an $85 million plan to help farmers bypass the big two supermarkets and sell direct to consumers.
"People care about where their food comes from and that local farmers get paid a reasonable price for it," Senator Milne said.
"Farmers don't have many options for selling their produce outside the low prices offered by the big supermarket chains.
"The Greens want to help farmers access infrastructure and markets so they can make a decent living off the land and improve our access to reasonably priced, fresh, local food.
"The communications revolution, particularly fast broadband heralds a new era of direct connection between growers and consumers.
"The Greens will provide $85 million over four years to help set up farmers markets, food box sales, farmers' co-operatives, regional marketing and food hubs."
Greens agricultural spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said more and more Australians want to "know their farmer" and buy food direct from local growers.
"Many people are already familiar with the taste and cost benefits of farmers' markets and buying boxes of seasonal produce and these should be expanded so more consumers can benefit," Senator Siewert said.
"Regional food hubs are where small-scale farmers can store, package, pickle, juice and bottle their produce. By sharing the equipment with other food producers they bring production costs down and improve their range of goods.
"Farmers co-operatives allow producers to band together to supply bigger contracts or start their own product lines with greater surety of supply than if they were working solo.
"Grant money could also be used to market a region for its products.
"Tasmania has a strong brand for high quality food and wine, as do WA regions like the Margaret River. Other regions and their specialities need similar opportunities, and the Greens' will help them do that."