​Media Release

Representing Australia on the global agricultural stage

5 July 2017

  • The Deputy Prime Minister led the Australian delegation at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Ministerial Conference
  • Delivered keynote address to a global audience of agriculture ministers and senior officials from 194 FAO members about the need to meet global food demand
  • The world will consume more in the next 50 years than we have in the whole of human history

The world must act now to meet growth in global food demand—that was the message from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, from his keynote speech at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Ministerial Conference in Rome.

​Minister Joyce was the first Australian Minister to attend the Conference since 2009 and delivered the response to the Frank McDougall Memorial Lecture, which honours an Australian who was pivotal in establishing FAO.

"Global food consumption is set to rise 11 per cent per person by 2050—the world will consume more in the next 50 years than we have in the whole of human history," Minister Joyce said.

"Growth in global food demand alone will require a 75 per cent increase in global food production by 2050 compared with 2007 levels.

"Farmers feed and clothe people—there is nothing more honourable and noble.

"My message to the FAO centred on four areas to meet this challenge: driving better returns for farmers, infrastructure, innovation and trade.

"There needs to be a monetary incentive for people to go on to and stay on the land—no one is going to produce what is required unless they get a fair return through the farmgate.

"There is no way to meet growing global food demand if produce cannot make it to local and international markets.

"Adaption, change and innovation will drive the future—we must take science out of the lab and put it in the hands of farmers, and look for game changers.

"Australia remains a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system, a system with great potential to do more for farmers all over the world, and for global food security.

"Australia is well on our way to what others thought was an impossible target—doubling the value of agricultural production in our nation. We are about one-third of the way there.

"We have to start dealing with global food demand now.

"Our task is to support our farmers, as they rise to meet that challenge, and continue to improve the lives of billions of people by putting food on their tables, clothes on their backs, and by generating income and employment that invigorates entire communities.

​"If we are serious about meeting global food demand—and I believe that there is no other viable alternative before us—we have to back our farmers."

​Fast facts

  • The FAO Conference is the peak governing body of the FAO. It meets biennially and is responsible for approving the two year programme of work and budget as well as governance, policy, administration and financial matters.
  • Australia is a founding member of the FAO (since 1945).
  • The FAO is the only global body dealing with food and agriculture issues, including fisheries and forestry.
  • It provides a forum for countries to discuss policies and provides advice to help develop and grow their agriculture sectors.