Leadership in Policy Empowers Farmers

Right to Farm

The VFF works on behalf of members to ensure planning and environmental regulation does not adversely impact the ongoing and productive use of land for the production of food and fibre.

Advocacy includes calling for the State Government to reinstate the Vendor Statement notice (Section 32 Statement of the Sale of Land Act) to advise buyers moving into a farming area about exposure to noise, smell and dust normally produced by agricultural activities.

Rural and Regional Telecommunications

Rural and regional Australians are relatively disadvantaged from participating in contemporary Australian (online) social and business activities because of poor connectivity.

The VFF aims to make Victoria a pilot state for mobile and digital programs that benefit those in agriculture, particularly rural and regional Australia. We will do this through direct federal and state lobbying, an online member campaign and the harnessed support of all telecommunication companies.

Rural Rates

The VFF supports the Fair Go Rates system for ratepayer transparency and confidence into the local council rating system.

Recently in Victoria, some rural councils have considered removing the differential rating system in favour of a uniform rate across all properties – be it residential property, commercial, industrial or farmland.

The VFF empowers members through core actions:

  • Take action locally – an online campaign that harnesses the local community to send submissions to the council
  • Local meetings - to develop a common voice and key messaging on the issue
  • Support the instigation of a community group - representing farmers with a lead voice
  • Media – creating media attention to bring the rating issue and council governance to the broader community
  • Ministerial - meetings to lobby government for a fairer and more equitable rating system. 


Onshore Gas

The State Government has a permanent ban on fracking and a moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration in Victoria until 2020. Fracking is the term used to extract unconventional gases such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gases.

The strongest voice and recognition from the VFF to the State Government was to ban fracking and extend the moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration in Victoria. In March 2017 the State Government amended legislation that banned fracking and extended the onshore gas moratorium until June 2020.

Fire Services Property Levy

The VFF lobbied the State Government to replace the Fire Services Levy with a more equitable Fire Services Property Levy (FSPL) to be collected through local councils. The VFF influenced the government decision on reducing the FSPL from 52 cents/$1000 of Capital Improved Value to 31 cents, which in 2016-17 has been further reduced to 26 cents in CFA regions and 14.5 cents MFB regions. 

This advocacy has collectively saved Victorian farmers $25 million per year.

Water

The VFF has secured a commitment from the State Government to improve water market transparency along with an investment in stock and domestic water infrastructure and irrigation infrastructure.

Murray-Darling Basin Plan

The VFF is working on behalf of its members to obtain a sustainable outcome to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

Consulting with rural communities, politicians and relevant water catchment and environmental agencies, we are aiming for an outcome that supports sustainable growth for the rural communities along the river system – farming and rural towns, the environment and native flora and fauna, and the economy.

The Basin Plan has delivered a water recovery of 2027.6 gigalitres into the Murray-Darling Basin river system and led to positive environmental impacts – conservation areas, waterways, native flora and fauna.

We are calling for the MDBP to halt any further environmental water capture from the basin communities.

In June 2017, the Murray-Darling Basin Ministers agreed to the Sustainable Diversion Limit adjustment mechanism projects – these projects represent significant investment in environmental works and changes to the river operational rules. The agreement should mean avoiding further buy-back to implement the plan.

An independent socio-economic study has been commissioned and will report to the MDB authority in December 2017.

Further consultation is due to occur later in 2017.  

Native Animals

The VFF supports the balance of native flora and fauna in the natural environment and across farm productivity.

Kangaroo Pet Food Trial

The State Government commenced a kangaroo pet food trial in March 2014 to allow the use of kangaroo carcasses resulting from authorised control activities to be processed for pet food.

This trial has been extended until March 2018 to test its sustainability over a longer period and to expand the geographic area of the trial.

The VFF supports the commercialisation of kangaroo pet food and will provide a submission to the State Government in September 2017 in support of the commercialisation of this trial.

Native Vegetation

The VFF supports the balance of native flora and fauna in the natural environment and across farm productivity.

 The VFF’s position is to recognise that a husbandry (a cross-disciplinary method to improved land management that involves social, economic and agro-ecological aspects) approach to native vegetation, with costs shared across the community, is the only way that a reversal of the current decline will occur.

Victoria’s native trees are forest trees and as such are prone to decline as isolated paddock trees. Therefore a simplified native vegetative framework that recognises the value of offsets will create bio-diverse habitats with renewed vegetation.

Infrastructure – Road and Rail

The sale of the Port of Melbourne for $6 billion led to investment in Victoria’s road and rail infrastructure through the $200 million State Government established Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund.

The VFF continues to lobby the State Government to provide funding access to support the improvement of road and rail infrastructure to ensure the timely and cost effective delivery of goods grown in rural and regional Victoria.

Foreign Ownership

The VFF supports a registry of foreign owned land and water and asks that it includes retrospective registration, transparency and reporting.

In March 2017, the Federal Government passed legislation that determined a new register will require foreign persons with holdings in registrable water entitlements or contractual water rights to notify the ATO once each year. People holding certain water rights whose foreign status changes will also be required to notify the ATO.

​The ATO will make summary statistics on foreign ownership of water entitlements captured through the register. This information will be available on the ATO's website.

Foreign ownership has increased in Australia with a total land mass of more than two times the size of Victoria is foreign owned, and in 2013 13.7% (1808 GL) of all water entitlements on issues had some level of foreign ownership.

Seasonal Workers and an Ethical Workforce

There are skill shortages in agriculture. The leading reason being the location of many agricultural workplaces makes it difficult to attract workers.

Skill shortages are widespread across all agricultural industries and the demand for skilled workers is likely to grow into the future. 

The VFF condemns the employment of illegal workers either directly on-farm or through labour hire agencies. We are actively working with the State Government to ensure there is a national approach to improving the labour hire landscape to deliver a nationally enforceable code of practice.

In parallel, the VFF is advocating for an expansion of the 456 Visa across a range of agricultural related activities that allow a seasonal foreign workforce to fulfil on-farm and associated roles that remain vacant.