A2; Policy and Advocacy

1. Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to provide a framework for farmer-led engagement to identify external policy issues, determine and prioritise policy outcomes and objectives, then develop and evaluate detailed policy options that are achieved using specific policy and advocacy activities.       

2. Background 

Agriculture is a critical sector of our economy, providing essential food, raw materials, and employment opportunities. The farming community continues to face numerous challenges, including climate change, market fluctuations and evolving consumer preferences. It is imperative to engage with farmers, understand their needs and develop effective policy options to address these challenges. 

3. Policy 

3.1. VFF uses an agreed and understood approach to policy and advocacy that promotes collaboration and unity for all Victorian farmers. Farmers determine VFF policy outcomes through active involvement of members including consultation, surveys, focus groups, and representation through Policy Council, Commodity Policy Councils (CPC’s), Issues Advisory Committees (IAC’s) and, Branches that all seek to understand the aspirations and concerns of the farming community and determine policy and advocacy outcomes. 

3.2 General Policy Platform 

3.2.1. The VFFs Policy Platform is the official record of the VFF’s position on general policy issues and is set by members through a representative democratic model.  

3.2.2. The VFF Policy Council is responsible for developing and preserving the VFF Policy Platform and has the authority to act to give effect to the platform.  

3.2.3. The VFF Policy Council is assisted by Issues Advisory Committees that develop and review policy statements in line with the committees areas of responsibility. These statements are submitted to the VFF Policy Council to for review and approval. In developing any policy statements, an Issues Advisory Committee shall ensure all relevant Commodity Policy Councils have been consulted.  

3.2.4. Commodity Policy Councils are responsible for developing and preserving policy statements that relate to specific issues that only impact members of the relevant Commodity Group. These policy statements form part of the VFF Policy Platform.   

3.2.5. Where there is conflict on a policy statement between Commodity Policy Council(s) and/or Issues Advisory Committee(s), the VFF Policy Council shall decide the overarching VFF policy statement and how to manage the policy conflict.       

3.2.6. In developing and reviewing the VFF Policy Platform and individual policy statements, the VFF takes into account contextual factors such as the political, economic and social climate, as well as the organisation’s strategic direction as set by the Board.  

3.2.7. The VFF Policy Platform shall be published annually on the VFF website and shall be accessible to members and stakeholders. All policy statements ratified by the VFF Policy Council or Commodity Policy Councils will be communicated to members within one month of their adoption.  

3.2.8. VFF members have the right to seek review or amendment of the VFF Policy Platform. The process for doing this shall be via a resolution passed at any Branch, Issues Advisory Committee, Commodity Group or other meeting of members as provided for under the Constitution. In this instance, the VFF Policy Council or Commodity Policy Council will determine whether to accept, or adapt the resolution, and shall report on any outcome to the originating body within 3 months of receiving the resolution.  

3.2.9. A report of all resolutions received by the VFF Policy Council and Commodity Policy Councils, and the outcomes associated with those resolutions shall be prepared and presented on an annual basis to VFF members.  

3.3 Policy and Advocacy Plans 

3.3.1. The VFF Policy Council, Issues Advisory Committees and Commodity Policy Councils shall each establish a Policy and Advocacy Plan every two years.  

3.3.2. A Policy and Advocacy Plan outlines the policy outcomes that the VFF Council or Committee seeks to achieve as well as the strategies and activities for policy analysis, policy design, advocacy and engagement activities to achieve the stated outcomes.  

3.3.3. Each Policy and Advocacy Plan is delivered, monitored and reviewed regularly by the relevant Commodity Policy Councils and Issues Advisory Committee.  

3.3.4. Progress in delivery of each Policy and Advocacy Plan is reported to the VFF Policy Council. 

3.3.5. Policy and Advocacy Plans are established using a Priority Setting Framework which uses multi-criteria analysis to ensure the effective allocation of resources and that efforts are focused on the most pressing concerns. Priorities are regularly reviewed and adjusted to ensure that resources are effectively used to achieve meaningful policy change. 

3.3.6. Multi-criteria analysis should include at least 2 of following criteria. Other criteria may also be added           

– Impact on farmers, agriculture industries or businesses: Significant impact on the prosperity of farmers, including consideration of the scale and severity of the issue. 

– Urgency: Requirement for immediate action. Issues that are currently in the public eye or on the legislative agenda may require urgent policy development and advocacy. 

– Feasibility and achievability: Advocacy efforts will lead to actionable outcomes considering the political climate, public support, and the potential for policy change. 

– Alignment with VFF goals and mission: The issue aligns with the VFF’s strategic objectives.  

– Data and evidence: Access to strong empirical evidence or data that supports the need for change.  

– Potential for coalition building: Support can be obtained from other organisations, stakeholders, or interest groups to amplify advocacy efforts. 

Resource availability: Sufficient resources, including funding and human resources, including capacity and expertise are available for advocacy.  

– Public awareness and support: The issue resonates with the public and has the potential to mobilise support and engagement from the broader community.– Policy window: The policy window of opportunities exists for the political climate to be conducive to change. 

– Equity: The issue has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable or marginalised groups. Utilise the high moral ground      

– Legislative or regulatory relevance: The issues are under active consideration by legislatures or relevant regulatory bodies. 

– International or national importance: The issue has local, national, or international significance. There is geographic relevance for the VFF. 

– Intersectionality: The issue intersects with other relevant concerns and creates broader implications or is linked to multiple challenges. 

– Measurability and accountability: Progress and VFF accountability for the issue can be clearly defined and measured. 

– Long-term impact: The issue has the potential to create lasting change and sustainable impact. 

3.4 Policy Analysis and Design 

Involves the detailed research, analysis, and formulation of policy objectives and various policy options that address policy outcomes determined by members.  

3.4.1. Policy analysis and design uses systematic consideration of the economic, technical and political implications of options to achieve policy outcomes, as well the capacity and resources required by the VFF to undertake the work. 

3.4.2. Policy analysis and design is undertaken by VFF staff in consultation with the relevant Issues Advisory Committee, Commodity Policy Council or any sub-committee or working group established for the purpose of policy development.  

3.4.3. The VFF systematic analysis of policy outcomes to determine policy objectives includes; 

– Verify, define and detail the problem using qualitative and quantitative methods; 

– Determine policy objectives to achieve the policy outcome; 

– Determine policy options to achieve the policy objectives; 

– Assess policy options using a multi-criteria analysis. 

3.4.4. VFF costs and external externalities including adverse from policy implementation. Final policy proposals must be consistent with the VFF’s General Policy Platform prior to any advocacy activities being undertaken.  

3.5 Advocacy   

Active support or promotion of a policy influences decision-makers and the public to achieve policy outcomes. Both seen and unseen advocacy strategies have their place in advancing various causes, depending on the context and the goals of the advocacy effort. 

3.5.1. Policy and Advocacy Plans describe the advocacy strategies, tactics and activities the VFF can use to achieve policy outcomes and objectives.  

3.5.2. VFF advocacy activities contribute to a process of negotiating and mediating a dialogue through which influential networks, opinion leaders, and ultimately, decision makers take ownership of the VFF’s ideas, evidence, and proposals, and subsequently act upon them. 

3.5.3. Advocacy activities are coordinated by Management with the President , Commodity President(s) and/or Issues Advisory Committee Chair(s), and Staff in accordance with the Policy & Advocacy Plan, Media Policy and Stakeholder Management Framework as appropriate 

3.5.4. The VFF uses four broad advocacy strategies with specific tactics under those strategies in developing advocacy plans:  

– Advising: The VFF puts itself in a position where decision makers directly seek our position on issues and collaborate to develop solutions. 

– Lobbying: The VFF uses its influence and access to meet with decision makers or attend hearings to directly advocate our position. 

– Campaigning: The VFF uses its profile to raise public awareness of our positions to put pressure on decision makers. 

– Activism: The VFF uses its members and links to the community to organise and mobilise individuals and groups to publicly advocate our position.           

3.5.5. Across these strategies, both seen and unseen advocacy tactics are used.  

3.5.6. Seen advocacy tactics: involve publicly advocating for the chosen policy options through media campaigns, public meetings, and collaborations with other farmer organisations. Tactics include: 

– Public awareness campaigns: These are overt efforts to raise awareness among the public, utilising various media channels, such as advertising, social media, and public events. 

– Lobbying: Lobbyists work openly to influence government officials and policies by meeting with lawmakers, attending hearings, and advocating for specific issues. 

– Petitions and protests: Organising and participating in public demonstrations, rallies, and online petitions to voice concerns and mobilise support for a cause. 

– Advocacy groups: Many organisations openly advocate for various causes, using their resources and platforms to engage in public discourse. 

– Media Campaigns: Using press releases, op-eds, or media interviews to reach a wider audience. 

– Public Speaking: Delivering speeches at public events, conferences, or forums to raise awareness. 

– Letter Writing: Encouraging constituents to write letters or emails to their representatives. 

– Educational Workshops: Hosting events to educate the public on the issue. 

– Advocacy Events: Organizing rallies, marches, or public demonstrations to garner attention and support. 

– Rhetoric: statements to media outlets to create an isolated emotional response.  

3.6. Unseen advocacy tactics: involve engaging with policymakers, government officials, and industry stakeholders behind the scenes to garner support for the proposed policies. Tactics include: 

– Branch activities: Mobilising members, individuals and communities to take action at the local level. 

– Coalition Building: Forming strategic alliances with like-minded organizations. 

– Behind-the-Scenes Lobbying: Building relationships with decision-makers and stakeholders in less visible ways. 

– Digital Advocacy: Leveraging social media and online campaigns to engage a broader audience. 

– Quiet Diplomacy: Engaging in discreet negotiations or discussions with key stakeholders. 

– Strategic alliances: Forging connections with key decision-makers, donors, or influential figures discreetly to garner support for a cause. 

– Media: Shaping public perception through strategic control of information, often by leaking or withholding specific details to favour a particular viewpoint. 

– Astroturfing: Creating the illusion of grassroots support when actually orchestrated by a particular interest group.      

3.7 Monitoring and Evaluation 

3.7.1. The VFF Policy Council is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the performance against the Policy and Advocacy Plans and shall report to the Board annually on activities and progress.  

3.7.2. Performance against the Policy and Advocacy Plans is monitored and evaluated using the following key evaluation questions: 

– Are the policy statements and policy and advocacy plans fit for purpose? 

– Does the VFF have the organisational capability and capacity or networks to deliver on policy and advocacy plans?      

– What is the evidence that implementation of policy and advocacy plans have achieved policy outcomes? 

– How can the policy statement and outcome process be improved? 

– How can the policy analysis and design process be improved? 

– How can the advocacy process be improved? 

4. Accountability 

The positions that are accountable for implementing the policy       

VFF President      


VFF GM Policy and Advocacy 

5. Related policies/procedures 

Policy G6: Policy Council Terms of Reference 

Policy G8: Issue Advisory Committee Terms of Reference 

Policy G9: Commodity Policy Council Terms of Reference 

Policy C5: Media