As representatives of our members the VFF campaigns on issues facing the industry.
The Chicken Meat Industry faces a variety of current issues:
Occupational Health and Safety
Recently the Chicken Meat Group Council has taken steps to ensure that farmers are provided with accurate information on Occupational Health and Safety measures with pick up crews, as the laws around outside contract workers is complex.
Birds welfare and health
As farmers the health and wellbeing of the birds we grow is at the core of our business. Currently we are concerned about the spread of disease amongst birds and are working, in conjunction with the state government and the processors, to eliminate this threat.
To ensure we are representing Chicken Meat growers to the best of our ability the VFF is investing in new technology to ensure the industry remains a strong network of growers.
To ensure birds are kept disease free and to ensure the product the consumers receive is safe, biosecurity measures around the farm and through the supply chain are integral.
The VFF is currently working with Primesafe to ensure that food safety is maintained, even as the regulator is looking to deregulate some sections of the meat industry.
Promoting the Chicken Meat industries local focus
With the second biggest Chicken Meat industry in Australia, Victorian’s are in a fantastic position to enjoy locally grown produce. The VFF will be getting out there and informing consumers that the vast majority of fresh chicken they eat is grown right here in Victoria.
Cost of production
The VFF is working with industry to identify areas where the industry can save money, as had previously been done with the Rural Industries Cooperative Limited and gas prices.
Planning issues for new farmers and farmers extending their operation
The VFF is advocating for better handling of planning applications from new and existing farmers wanting to build or extend their Chicken Meat operations. Farmers who are prepared to invest in good farming practices and following the Broiler code should not be dragged to VCAT. We need greater clarity for those assessing the applications to determine which proposed farms fall within the guidelines for rural production zones and which do not.
Potential price pressure from the major supermarkets
With the major supermarkets reducing the cost of in store roasted chickens earlier this year, the VFF Chicken Meat group is wary that this may flow back to farmers. We would oppose any move to devalue the time, effort and investment farmers have put into their farms, or of an individual chickens life.
The VFF is currently working with the State Government who is producing a Practice Note for the Broiler Code on Free Range. We want to ensure that free range Chicken Meat farmers are covered by the Broiler Code and to make the necessary standards clear in order to reduce uncertainty for farmers looking to invest in free range.
Other challenges facing the industry are:
- Ensuring continued care for the environment on and around farms by working with local councils and the EPA
- To ensure a fair trading relationship between the producer and the buyer in a highly concentrated and vertically integrated industry
- Encroachment of residential developments into traditional agricultural areas creating conflicts between farmers and new residents with an idealistic expectation of rural living
- Maintaining Australia's quarantine rules to prevent exotic diseases entering the country
On all of these issues the VFF, along with its federal counterpart ACGC, campaigns to make sure Farmers interests are heard.