Minister for Agriculture media release - 2 May 2017.
The Andrews Labor Government is protecting Victoria’s international reputation as a clean, green producer of food and fibre and securing jobs in regional Victoria.
A commitment of $44.4 million, included as part of the Victorian Budget 2017/18, will maintain the state’s crucial agricultural biosecurity over the next two years, protecting access to international markets and supporting regional jobs.
The funds will help Agriculture Victoria to secure overseas market access for farmers and continue to protect our state from invasive pests and diseases.
An additional $19.2 million over four years will go towards a ten-year national plan to eradicate the invasive Red Imported Fire Ant. The ant can cause significant damage, placing the health of livestock, farm workers and the environment at risk. It was first detected in Brisbane in 2001.
The Labor Government will also continue its support for the implementation of electronic tagging of sheep and goats, helping producers reduce any risks to our meat and wool trade.
The funding reflects the Labor Government’s determination to rebuild Victoria’s agricultural biosecurity system, which had been drastically undermined by ongoing cuts under the former Liberal-National Government.
The Victorian Auditor-General found that funding for core livestock biosecurity was cut by 49 per cent between 2009-10 and 2014-15. The number of animal health and veterinary officers also shrank by 42 per cent.
These cuts weakened Victoria’s capacity to prevent, prepare for and respond to a major livestock disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth disease.
The Budget also provides $1.7 million to re-establish the much-loved Victorian Rural Women’s Network (RWN) to promote women’s economic participation and professional development, and support their wellbeing by linking them to information, health and education services.
After it was defunded in 2013 by the previous Coalition Government, women from all over the state have asked for the Network to be re-established and thanks to the Labor Government, the Network will be back up and running from July 1.
The Network will also bridge the distance and connect women living in isolated areas, with networking events, mentoring, an e-newsletter and social media outreach.
To support the long-term sustainability of local jobs in the timber and wood products industry, we will invest $110 million to establish more plantations. The Government will work in conjunction with industry to expand Victoria's plantation estate and increase the proportion of plantation-gown timber available to this important industry.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford
“Victoria’s primary producers continue to punch well above their weight. They’re doing their part – it’s up to government to do ours.”
“By investing in biosecurity, we’re protecting our state’s clean, green reputation and the livelihood of thousands of Victorian farmers.”
“Women from every walk of life and every corner of our state have told me how important this is. We listened and we’ve delivered.”