This week, the VFF hosted a breakfast for members of parliament in Melbourne. I took this opportunity to remind the members of their responsibilities to food producers and to food consumers.
Consumers demand a reliable supply of safe, high-quality food at a reasonable price, and there are thousands of Victorian farmers working hard to meet those demands. However, to be able to continue to feed Australia and the world, farmers need modern infrastructure; healthy and safe workplaces; science-based, practical regulation; and a confident future.
Farmers pay taxes and rates, and they in turn deserve to have access to the same infrastructure and services as other Victorians. Farmers need consistent and reasonably priced energy to run their businesses and care for their animals; fit-for-purpose roads and rail to deliver produce and reliable telecommunications.
A fortnight ago, Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said “keeping young farmers on the land is crucial for the future of the industry”. I agree entirely, and I encourage the minister and her colleagues to address all of these issues to give young farmers a confident future.
During Daniel Andrews’ campaign for the 2018 state election, one of his slogans was “building a better, stronger, fairer state and delivering for all Victorians.” I encourage the Premier to join us beyond the tram lines and see firsthand what he needs to do to deliver for all Victorians in rural and regional communities.
At the end of March, we will have reached the end of the first 100 days of this parliament. Aside from responding to the drought, the government has not addressed the issues that impede farm businesses and rural communities. I hope in four years’ time we are not still sitting here, wondering why they have not delivered for all Victorians.
- David Jochinke, VFF president