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Budget disappointment for VFF

Disappointed: VFF president Emma Germano is unhappy with the lack of support for agriculture in the state budget. Photo by Geoff Adams

The Victorian Government has been criticised by the VFF for not spending enough on regional Victoria and agriculture in the state budget.

VFF president Emma Germano said Treasurer Tim Pallas’ speech failed to mention agriculture as one of Victoria’s key export industries and the 21,000 farm businesses that play a vital role in Victoria’s economy.

“Agriculture plays a vital role in keeping Victoria’s economy moving and the investment in the services and infrastructure we need and deserve is totally underwhelming,” Ms Germano said.

“Farmers have helped to keep Victoria alive through the pandemic and now that we are approaching the other side, we can’t be treated as an afterthought.”

Ms Germano said she was bitterly disappointed in the budget’s failure to address regional Victoria’s crumbling road network.

“This is yet another budget that fails to address the chronic underfunding of Victoria’s regional road network,” she said.

“Western Victoria has particularly missed out on funding for upgrades to critical freight routes so farmers can get food and fibre to market.”

The VFF welcomed $12 million for a research glasshouse complex and incubation hub at the Horsham Grains Innovation Precinct, $1.9 million for community pest and weed management, joint emergency exercises for biosecurity incursions and other activities.

It also welcomed $1.4 million to support farm business and communities to undertake drought-specific climate change adaptation activities.

“We are pleased the government listened to our calls on the importance of securing our supply chains with an additional $30 million for the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund and $40 million for the Victorian Industry Investment Fund,” Ms Germano said.

The government said it was spending $193.4 million in regional development and agriculture, advancing the 10‑year agriculture strategy and helping the sector remain “strong, innovative and sustainable”.

The government has invested more than $700 million in its Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund since 2015.

This year, the fund will receive another $30 million to help businesses create more jobs in regional Victoria, support more community projects and help councils build infrastructure.

The government is investing $5 million through the new Living Local Regional Fund, designed to support growing towns with local projects to connect communities.

It is also investing $2.9 million to support agribusinesses across Victoria reach new markets and grow their sales globally, including funding to continue the Drink Victorian campaign, and for Vic House in Shanghai, which gives Victorian agriculture producers and exporters dedicated in-market space to showcase their products.

This budget invests in infrastructure, rolling stock, planning and maintenance of Victoria’s regional rail network. There is $250 million to deliver 12 new VLocity trains that will support more services on the Shepparton corridor and improve reliability for Warrnambool line passengers.