This year’s VFF Budget Submission is focussed on growing Victorian agriculture and helping our state get back on track as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst we appreciate the strained economic environment that the Victorian Government is currently working under, the VFF believes the Government has a once in a generation opportunity to revive regional Victoria and help lead the state from its economic challenges.
Despite the challenges of bushfires, drought and COVID-19, agriculture has been one of the Victorian economy’s standout performers. Our farmers contribute over $13.16 billion to Victoria’s economy, representing 27.8% of the state’s exports valued at $11.9 billion. Over 87,000 Victorians are employed in the state’s agricultural industries, underpinning our rural and regional communities.
Improving supply chain efficiency is critical for ensuring a prosperous and sustainable agriculture industry. The VFF is calling on the Victorian Government to make substantial investments in upgrading and maintaining regional road and rail freight networks to ensure our export industry can remain globally competitive. Farming communities are concerned that there is a backlog of regional infrastructure developments that needs to be addressed immediately. Failing to do so will hold our rural economies back from reaching their potential and compromise, the safety of Victorians travelling on our country roads.
We also call on the Victorian Government to assist the local government sector to deliver the services and infrastructure farmers rely on. Local government faces a large task to maintain essential services, such as roads and bridges and emergency water supply. They also have a significantly smaller rate payer base to raise the necessary revenue. The VFF is concerned the
inequity between city and country will continue to increase without increased State Government support.
Additionally, we are seeking government programs that leverage farmers’ own investments in growing and protecting their businesses whilst improving safety outcomes with the reintroduction of the Cattle Underpass Scheme, the Quad Bike Safety Rebate Scheme, the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme and our newly proposed On-farm Fire Suppression Grants. As well as providing farm businesses the opportunity to grow, these programs also attract investment in rural communities.
The VFF is proud to present these positive solutions for the Government’s consideration and we remain committed to working with the Government to achieve positive outcomes for farmers, our families and our communities.