Farmers continue to feed Victorians
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) yesterday held emergency talks to implement the necessary steps to protect agriculture and the state’s food supply chain from the impact of Victoria’s current coronavirus crisis.
VFF President David Jochinke says the agricultural industry is one of a few that is permitted to continue, following Premier Daniel Andrews’ announcement yesterday regarding the enforcement of the state’s toughest COVID-19 restrictions yet.
“The VFF recognises the gravity of this responsibility,” Jochinke says. “We understand the trust that has been placed in our sector and that we are accountable for keeping Victorians fed during this state of disaster.
“We have been in constant talks with government to advocate for farmers and ensure that decision-makers understand the importance of keeping the food supply chain open and those discussions have ramped up over recent days.”
Jochinke says farmers are increasingly concerned about restrictions to their business, including business interruption, labour shortages and freight and logistics problems.
“We know continuity of business is a big concern for farmers,” he says. “Our discussions with government have focused on four key principles: bipartisan and comprehensive approach to border issues, smoother flow of goods and services intrastate and interstate, strategies to enable the movement of the agricultural workforce and regulatory change to ensure that agriculture and its supply chain is classified as a critical service.”
Jochinke says the agriculture sector has the potential to be a major contributor to Victoria’s economic recovery: “While this will be inconvenient, if we get it right and we do the hard yards, then it will only be for a few weeks and our businesses will continue to operate,” he says. “Victoria is Australia’s food bowl. We are Australia’s largest producer of food and the nation’s largest exporter.”
Victorian farmers are responsible for 43 percent of Australia’s sheep and lamb meat, 64 percent of our milk and 32 percent of horticulture products. They also export the most dairy, fruit, nuts and prepared foods. Agriculture also supports 200,000 Victorian jobs.