Four year food industry plan unveiled in State of Victoria budget

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd May 2012

The Victorian Government announced this week in its annual Budget that it has set aside AU$61.4 million of funding in this year’s State Budget for the food and agriculture industries.

Revealing the State Budget for 2012/13 on Tuesday 2 May 2012, the Victorian Government outlined a four year funding plan to protect food and agriculture.

The AU$61.4 million has been earmarked help build profitability and productivity of the dairy, red meat, grains and horticulture industries, as well as improve biosecurity measures across the State’s farm sector.

Investment in dairy innovation

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said a total of AU$14.3 million of new money over four years would be invested to ensure Victoria’s dairy sector continued to innovate and prosper.

Minister Walsh said, “Victoria is Australia’s dairy powerhouse, accounting for two thirds of national production and 86 per cent of dairy exports.

“This investment will focus on improving cow genetics and the efficiency of feeding systems – one of the biggest cost pressures facing dairy farmers.”

Improving productivity growth in beef and lamb sectors

Mr Walsh said an extra AU$9 million over four years would target the beef and lamb sectors and strive to lift productivity growth in light of improved seasons.

“Beef and lamb producers are experiencing strong export demand. Now is the ideal time to make a strategic investment, boost output and lift productivity growth,” Mr Walsh said.

“This investment will focus on improved fertility, weaner survival, genetics and grazing systems.”

Funding for research and development in grains industry

An additional $10.6 million over four years will focus on Victoria’s grain producers.

“In 2010 the grains sector provided a gross value of $2.5 billion to the Victorian economy, with exports worth more than $1.1 billion,” Mr Walsh said.

“The initiative will improve plant genetics, technologies and farm practices to increase the productivity, product resilience and flexibility of the grains industry.

Funding for pears, almonds and stonefruits

Mr Walsh said the fourth component of the food and industry revitalisation plan was to seize opportunities created by a growing demand for fresh horticultural products in Asia.

An investment of AU$8.1 million of new money over four years will focus on three horticultural areas that show exciting potential: pears, almonds and stonefruits (apricots, peaches and nectarines).

The investment will also support the Horticulture Industry Network to ensure growers have access to information on how to improve their performance.

“This strategy is based on playing to our strengths and competitive advantages, and focusing on high value markets in Australia and overseas,” Mr Walsh said.

Improving Victoria’s biosecurity

Mr Walsh said an investment of an additional AU$19.5 million over four years would help to ensure that Victorian food and fibre producers were properly protected from the threat of weeds, pest animals and diseases.

“The ongoing management of biosecurity threats is crucial to Victoria’s prosperity and is an important insurance policy to protect our trade and access to markets,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is serious about combating the impacts of pest plants and animals on food and fibre producers and ensuring that Victoria continues to have access to premium markets across the world.”

Co-operatives to help improve industry efficiency

The new financial year would also see food and fibre producers take advantage of a AU$5 million State Government initiative to establish co-operatives to maximise the marketing potential of clean, fresh Victorian farm produce.

“The Government will co-invest with the Victorian cattle industry to improve efficiencies in ordering National Livestock Identification tags and will train additional private sector veterinarians in exotic animal disease detection and response,” Mr Walsh said.