It is safe to say that, as an industry, agriculture has faced - and continues to face - its fair share of challenges in this COVID-19 environment.
The Agriculture Workers' Code that the VFF and other key industry groups campaigned strongly for was a big win for the state's farmers, and is welcome news. But we still look forward to its implementation.
We are also still in the midst of heavy restrictions put on meat processing facilities, which is causing livestock industry concern as the spring supply peak approaches.
Although these issues are problematic, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revive regional Victoria and help to lead the state out from its economic woes.
Health must always remain our top priority and we need to ensure we continue practicing COVID-19-safe measures, but we also need to look forward to the future.
Regional Victoria is currently in a much more advanced stage in terms of COVID-19 recovery than Melbourne.
Our thoughts go out to those in Melbourne, but now is the time for country Victoria to grow.
We need support to make this happen.
The VFF is calling for a change in government thinking and policy so that the regions can be a vehicle for economic growth and genuine investment in critical infrastructure.
There is an undeniable city and country divide in infrastructure and services such as roads, rail, telecommunications, health and education - to name a few.
These are all critical to ensure regional Victoria has the tools it needs to entice growth and help us recover economically.
If anything, COVID-19 has shown the resilience of regional Victoria.
The upside of getting the regions up-and-running initially is enormous - not just for agriculture, but for Victoria as a whole.
The longer we wait to do this, the longer the road we have to economic recovery.
- David Jochinke, VFF president
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