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Yarriambiack Creek

Media Releases

Victorian milk to help Bega break ground in China

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh has welcomed a supply agreement that will see a major Australian dairy brand supply UHT milk to western China.
Bega Cheese will supply southwest China’s largest retail group, Chongqing General Trading Group (CGTG), with Bega branded UHT milk produced in Australia for distribution in China.
“I met with representatives from CGTG and Bega in China today as part of the Victorian Coalition Government‘s latest trade mission and can confirm this agreement delivers benefits for Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“This supply agreement will see more than 20 million litres of milk packaged annually for the Chinese market when operating at full capacity.
“The majority of the milk to supply the UHT product to China will be sourced from Victoria, and as the business grows it is possible that additional processing capacity may be required.
“China is the world’s biggest dairy importer and CGTG is a leader in import trade, making it an ideal partner for Victoria’s export-oriented dairy and meat industries.
“Through the Victorian Government’s trade mission program and our $100 million Food to Asia Action Plan, we will continue to open new market opportunities for Victoria’s premium clean, green and safe produce.”
CGTG is the largest retail group in southwest China with annual sales totaling AUD $9.8 billion and a 100,000 strong workforce.
Bega Cheese Chief Executive Officer Aidan Coleman said the company was proud of its long term business relationships and looked forward to a long term relationship with Chongqing.
“The company is very pleased to form this partnership with CGTG and it is a strong endorsement of the reputation of the quality of Bega’s product and the biosecurity of Australia as a dairy producing nation,” Mr Coleman said.
“We see this as a first step in developing a comprehensive UHT offering in the future.”
Victoria is Australia’s largest exporter of dairy products, and the state’s exports represent almost 10 per cent of world dairy trade.

Victoria Launches tenth trade mission to China

Monday, September 22, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government is hosting its 10th trade mission to China this week, building on the special economic relationship with the state’s largest trading partner.
The mission is being led by the Minister for Employment and Trade, Louise Asher, the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, Peter Walsh and the Minister for Manufacturing, David Hodgett.
The Ministers will support 120 companies on the mission which operate in the food, wine and agriculture, automotive, sustainable urban development and tourism industries. They will visit Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Liuzhou.
Minister Asher said the 2014 mission would build on the success of Victoria’s $62.6 million International Engagement Strategy, which has supported more than 3,100 companies on 76 trade missions to more than 30 countries since December 2010.
“These trade missions deliver enormous economic benefit to Victoria, with participating companies reporting projected exports of more than $4.7 billion,” Ms Asher said.
“The latest China mission will build on our previous nine trade visits to China and include businesses that have formerly demonstrated a capacity to engage with the China market.
“The 2014 program is also more targeted than the 2012 and 2013 Super Trade Missions, focusing on the cities that have demonstrated the most potential for Victorian business and the industries that have been identified as priorities for the State’s engagement with China.
“Victoria’s economic prosperity is strongly linked to our relationship with China, now and in the future. China is our biggest trading partner, our largest source of international students, our largest sources of inbound tourists and our number one destination for food and beverage exports,” Ms Asher said.
Mr Walsh said China was already Victoria’s number one trading partner for food and fibre exports, receiving goods valued at $2.2 billion in 2012-13, but it was important to build on established relationships
“Working to strengthen our trading relationship with China now is critically important to ensuring Victoria’s farmers and food manufacturers have future opportunities to expand their market presence,” Mr Walsh said.
“This mission has a strong focus on exploring two-way dairy and horticulture opportunities, and the Mission has strong delegate representation from fruit growers and dairy companies.”
Mr Hodgett said the China mission was designed to strengthen Victoria’s trade footprint in key cities in western-China, such as Chengdu and Chongqing.
“We are also returning to China to build on pre-existing relationships in key supplier markets, especially in Shanghai and also Beijing. The program and meetings that have been organised in these cities will aim at increasing the engagement of businesses that are already actively doing business in China.
“Victoria has several world-class industries which are actively involved in trade with China but this mission, offers scope for exciting new partnerships in the food and beverage, automotive, sustainable urban design and tourism industries,” Mr Hodgett said
After China, Mr Hodgett will lead a trade mission of 27 automotive companies to Malaysia where he will launch the joint Malaysian/Victorian Automotive Showcase.
“Following the announcements by Ford, Holden and Toyota that they will be ceasing vehicle manufacturing in Australia, the Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting our automotive suppliers and helping them break into new markets.
“This event is designed to promote Victorian automotive capabilities and facilitate business matching partnerships between Victorian and Malaysian automotive businesses,” Mr Hodgett said.

Young agri professionals join China trade mission

Monday, September 22, 2014
Two young agribusiness professionals have joined this week’s Victorian trade mission to China thanks to the Victorian Coalition Government’s new Food to Asia Passport.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said Seymour wool producer Hugh Thomson and National Australia Bank agribusiness specialist Dee Commins were currently in China as observers on Victoria’s latest delegation of food and fibre businesses.
“The Napthine Coalition Government is supporting our agriculture and food manufacturing businesses to secure new markets in high-value growth regions like Asia and the Middle East, and trade missions are an important part of those endeavours,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Coalition Government is also committed to supporting the next generation of food and fibre producers, and promoting the range of vibrant agricultural career opportunities available.
“The Food to Asia Passport program connects young agribusiness professionals with likeminded people and provides greater insight into international export markets.
“Hugh and Dee are already making a significant contribution to Victoria’s agriculture sector, but it is crucial we ensure the next generation is able to keep building the networks vital for the future of Victorian agriculture.”
Mr Thomson described the opportunity to participate in a Victorian Government-led delegation to China as timely, given China’s transition towards a consumer-based economy.
“As a wool grower I understand the importance China holds in our industry but I am also aware of the growing demand for other commodities such as red meat, and I believe that with the right relationships Victoria is well positioned to supply this growth market.”
Ms Commins said the Food to Asia Passport program provided an excellent opportunity to be a part of developing Victoria’s trade relationship with China.
“It provides a unique opportunity to learn more about an industry that will be integral to the growth of Victorian agriculture.”
The Food to Asia Passport program is open to all financial members of the Victorian Young Farmers or Young Agribusiness Professionals who are 18 years or older, and follows a successful pilot program which ran earlier this year.
“The Victorian Coalition Government's trade mission program, together with our $100 million Food to Asia Action Plan, will ensure we fully capitalise on unprecedented global demand for food and fibre by developing long-lasting trade relationships,” Mr Walsh said.

Japanese investment is Burras formula for success

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government's latest trade mission to China and Japan is reinforcing strong business relationships with valuable export partners.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today met with Korumburra’s Burra Foods shareholder, Itochu, in Tokyo to discuss Burra Food’s growth in key Asian markets.
“A recent $22 million expansion at Burra Foods dairy processing plant in Korumburra is an initiative to increase the value of dairy exports and enable the company to better meet growing demand for nutritional milk powders,” Mr Walsh said.
“The expansion has also helped Burra Foods produce a new range of infant formula, largely for export, highlighting the importance of growth markets such as China and South East Asia.
“This substantial investment created 60 jobs during construction, 26 new full time jobs across the business and secured more than 100 existing jobs at the plant.”
Mr Walsh said the Japanese investment in Victoria’s dairy industry was providing security for the Victorian dairy farmers who supplied Burra Foods, and was also helping the company diversify into higher value dairy products further up the supply chain.
“The Napthine Government's $100 million Food to Asia Action Plan is helping to position Victoria as a producer of high-value, high-reliability produce and attracting new capital investment into Victorian food related businesses and agriculture,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our Food to Asia Action Plan, along with our trade mission program, is putting more Victorian businesses in direct contact with new export opportunities, ensuring we are well positioned to take full advantage of emerging consumer demand in key growth markets throughout Asia.”
Burra Foods Chief Executive Officer Grant Crothers said Japan had been the largest market for Burra Foods and the Australian dairy industry more broadly for many years, making Itochu’s investment upstream into processing a natural fit in 2009.
“Moving in to a higher value category such as infant formula enables Burra and Itochu to offer a broader range of higher value products to growing markets such as China,” Mr Crothers said.
In 2012-13 Japan accounted for eight per cent of all food exported from Victoria, amounting to
$785 million, including $431 million in dairy and $141 million in meat products amounting to $785 million, including $431 million in dairy and $141 million in meat products.

New size limits to improve Murray cod numbers

Friday, September 12, 2014
New recreational catch limits for Murray cod in Victorian waters will improve the species’ sustainability and improve fishing opportunities for anglers in the long term.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said recent public consultation had indicated substantial support for the introduction of a 50-70 centimetre slot limit and a reduced bag limit in rivers of one Murray cod per day.
“The current 60-100cm slot limit does not sufficiently protect the older, more valuable breeding Murray cod, which are the future of this iconic species,” Mr Walsh said.
“Scientific modelling by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) indicates that Murray cod populations would be enhanced under a slot limit regime of 50-70cm.”
Mr Walsh said scientists had also modelled other scenarios including a 60 to 80cm slot limit.
“The results of the modelling indicated that under Victorian conditions, a slot limit of 50-70cm was better for the fish and better for recreational anglers,” Mr Walsh said.
“Compared with current regulations, a 50-70cm slot limit is expected to improve sustainability
outcomes by 68 per cent, increase the number of large breeding fish by 147 per cent and increase the availability of fish to catch by 12 per cent.
“The bag limit of two in lakes would remain unchanged because most Murray cod fisheries in Victorian lakes are stocked populations, where angler takings don’t pose a sustainability threat.
“The reduced bag limit in rivers would enable Victorian anglers to take one smaller fish for the table, whilst ensuring all large breeders are returned to the water and contribute to future populations.
“The Coalition Government recognises the social and economic contribution recreational fishing makes to our state and the importance of ensuring it has a long-term sustainable future here in Victoria. We are making this science-based change to ensure Victoria remains a top fishing destination,” Mr Walsh said.
The new Victorian regulations will be introduced by a Fisheries Notice before the opening of the Murray cod season on 1 December 2014.

Coalition invests licence fees to improve fishing

Tuesday, September 09, 2014
More than $3.6 million collected from the sale of recreational fishing licences has been allocated by the Victorian Coalition Government to projects that will improve fishing opportunities in lakes, rivers, bays and inlets across the state.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the annual Recreational Fishing Grants Program funded projects which improve fishing access, facilities, sustainability, fish habitat, fisheries education, enforcement, training and research.
“The Coalition Government recognises the significant social and economic contribution that recreational fishing makes to our state. Through this grants program, fishers’ licence fees are going directly back into projects that will benefit them,” Mr Walsh said.
“Almost $1 million of this year’s funding will stock an extra 1.1 million fish over the next three years, in addition to Fisheries Victoria’s regular stocking program.
“These extra fish will include rainbow and brown trout along with more native species such as Murray cod, golden perch, Australian bass and estuary perch.
“A further $965,000 will be used to conduct fisheries surveys to monitor the progress of stocked fisheries and to produce educational products to help anglers abide by catch limits and fish sustainably.
“Another $1.7 million will fund 21 projects across the state including a study into the economic contribution of fishing and 90 more fishing line disposal bins. Other projects include all-ability fishing platforms, solar lights over boat ramps, improved fish habitat in rivers, better access to fishing spots and scientific studies into popular species.
“Many of these projects will be undertaken in partnership with community organisations that have identified opportunities in their local areas to improve fishing.”
Mr Walsh said the grants program was in addition to the Napthine Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative.
“The Coalition Government has done more to improve recreational fishing in Victoria than Daniel Andrews and the Labor Party achieved in over a decade,” Mr Walsh said.
For more information on the Recreational Fishing Grants Program visit

Six-fold increase in Victorian dairy farm earnings

Monday, September 08, 2014
Average Victorian dairy farm earnings increased six-fold in 2013/14 thanks to high milk prices and favourable seasonal conditions, in a further boon to the industry following significant recent announcements.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said Dairy Farm Monitor Report data from 75 Victorian farms showed average whole farm earnings before interest and tax of $367,765 – up from $59,000 in 2012/13.
“Much of this improvement can be attributed to favourable conditions and the fact the milk price reached an average of $6.79/kg for milk solids (MS) in 2013/14 – the second highest level recorded in real terms since the farm monitor project began eight years ago,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said as well as a six-fold increase in average dairy farm earnings, return on assets rose to 8.5 per cent from 0.7 per cent.
“The last 12 months have enabled many farmers to consolidate their businesses and attend to delayed capital purchases and repairs following a challenging 2012/13. All 75 participants recorded a positive return on assets, compared with only 43 the previous year,” Mr Walsh said.
The Dairy Farm Monitor Report is funded by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and Dairy Australia, and its release follows the recent announcement that Fonterra will boost exports of infant formula, and strong financial year results by Murray-Goulburn.
“Victoria’s dairy industry is going from strength to strength. While the report still highlights concerns around cash flow and succession planning, the general lift in sentiment in the dairy industry confirms that there is a bright future ahead,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian dairy industry exported 86 per cent of Australia’s dairy products in 2013/14, worth $1.85 billion. This should grow even further as the consumer class in Asia hits 3.5 billion people by 2030, who will demand the premium dairy products that Victoria provides. 
“The Victorian Coalition Government is helping to build a stronger dairy industry that can capitalise on this increased demand through our $100 million Food to Asia Action Plan and $50 million International Engagement Strategy.
“The Coalition is also funding key research, development and extension programs through our $61.4 million Growing Food and Fibre Initiative to boost the productivity and profitability of farmers, which will help them reach the target of doubling food and fibre production by 2030.”
Regional summaries:
In the north, above average rainfall, 100 per cent allocation of high reliability water shares and good availability of temporary water saw irrigation costs increase, leading to an increase in average cost of production to $5.34/kg MS. However, the average milk price in the region rose 35 per cent, resulting in average net farm income for dairy farmers in northern Victoria increasing to $303,825.
In the south-west, milk prices reached their highest point of $6.91/kg MS for the year and an improvement in operating conditions was a welcome change to the previous challenging year.
The better seasonal conditions meant farmers in the south-west were able to directly graze more pasture per milking hectare and reduce their reliance on purchased fodder. The cost of production in the south-west also increased to $5.34/kg MS while average net farm income increased to $278,794.
Gippsland experienced varying growing conditions, despite receiving above average rainfall in many areas, with good access to high reliability water shares. Gippsland farmers controlled expenditure on overhead costs, particularly repairs and maintenance and labour, decreasing their cost of production to $5.16/kg MS. The milk price rose to an average $6.62/kg MS in Gippsland while average net farm income increased to $188,387.

Coalition funds investigation into trout numbers

Wednesday, September 03, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government is allocating $890,000 to a three-year investigation into the causes of declined wild trout stocks in Victoria's highland rivers to assist population recovery.
Ahead of the opening of trout season this weekend, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said this was the most significant investment in riverine trout research in decades.
“Anglers have expressed concern about low wild trout stocks in many northeast and Gippsland
rivers, which have traditionally held self-sustaining populations,” Mr Walsh said.
“Surveys have confirmed there are fewer trout in the lower reaches of many highland rivers, likely due to hot weather and warmer than usual water temperatures, which are unfavourable for trout.
“This project will investigate this potential cause, as well as changes in fishing pressure, predation, reduced natural breeding and changes to bank-side shade.”
Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Industries Bill Sykes, who is launching the Goulburn Fishing Festival on Friday, said trout in the Delatite River would be acoustically tagged to track their movement and better understand how trout respond to seasonally changing conditions.
“The project also involves a brown trout stocking trial in the Upper Goulburn and Howqua rivers along with assessments of wild trout populations in 12 important rivers,” Dr Sykes said.
“Volunteer anglers from local fishing clubs will also record their trout catch and effort, to help fisheries managers monitor the performance from season to season and in different stretches.”
The investigation is being funded by $565,000 from recreational fishing licence fees and $325,000 from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and the Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative.
“The Coalition Government recognises the significant social and economic contribution recreational fishing makes to Victoria and we want to ensure our state remains a top fishing destination for both locals and visitors,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our $16 million Initiative is also funding boating facility upgrades, more fish stockings, new fish cleaning tables, reefs, and increased fisheries education across the state. The Napthine Coalition Government has done more to improve fishing in Victoria in three-and-a-half years than Daniel Andrews and the Labor Party achieved in more than a decade.”
For more information on the trout program visit

Victorian Agricultural Society golden anniversary

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today congratulated the Victorian Agricultural Society (VAS) on five decades of supporting rural communities and agriculture.
Speaking at the VAS 50th anniversary luncheon at Melbourne Showgrounds, Mr Walsh commended the dedication and passion of the organisation and its many volunteers.
“There are more than 100 agricultural show societies affiliated with the VAS, and each society enables local communities to deliver agricultural shows, field days and run statewide competitions,” Mr Walsh said.
“These events boost local economies and play an important role in promoting agriculture to urban and regional audiences, attracting more than two million people to 112 agricultural shows and 10 agricultural field days last year alone.
“The Victorian Coalition Government recognises that annual shows and field days are much-awaited events marked on the calendars of rural and regional communities, bringing both locals and visitors together each year.
“That’s why we are proud to support agricultural show societies through the Agricultural and Pastoralist Society Grant Program, which has awarded more than $1 million in grants over the last four years.
“These grants have helped countless show societies undertake a range of projects including upgrading pavilions and display facilities, installing new power facilities and building new fences and livestock yards. Show societies will soon be invited to apply for the next round of grants.”
Mr Walsh particularly commended the VAS for its Junior Rural Ambassador Program, which provides young people the opportunity to develop public speaking skills and industry networks.
“Victoria is Australia’s largest food and fibre exporting state and support for the next generation of farmers is vital to grow the sector even further,” Mr Walsh said.
“Programs such as this help to attract young people into agriculture and build stronger regional economies.”

Strong future confirmed for Victorias dairy industry

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
An international deal for infant formula production announced by Fonterra, combined with strong financial year results announced today by Australia’s largest dairy food company, Murray-Goulburn, have reinforced Victoria’s dairy industry is going from strength to strength.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government recognised today’s announcements as a huge confidence boost for Victoria’s dairy industry, from the farm gate through to the dairy food manufacturing sector.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to boosting the productivity and profitability of our dairy industry, and we are actively working with the industry to get more Victorian produce into the rapidly expanding high value consumer markets of Asia,” Mr Walsh said.
“The announcement that Fonterra and Beingmate will pursue a NZ$615 million partnership to manufacture and distribute infant formula has been described as game-changing by the dairy industry, with significant new access anticipated to the Chinese market including 80,000 distribution outlets.
“Victoria welcomes Fonterra’s positive comments on the ongoing future of Gippsland’s Darnum Park
site, which supports Gippsland dairy farmers and local jobs at the plant.
“Fonterra’s announcement comes on the same day Murray-Goulburn revealed strong financial results with a net profit after tax of $29.3 million for 2013-14 and record sales revenue of $2.917 billion.”
Mr Walsh said Victoria was becoming increasingly important in the competitive global dairy market. “Victoria is cementing its position as Australia’s dairy powerhouse. Last year we exported $1.85 billion of dairy product, which was 86 per cent of the nation’s total. Today’s announcements signal an even brighter future for dairy in Victoria and should give everyone in the industry great confidence,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is helping to build a stronger dairy industry with our Food to Asia Action Plan, securing more jobs and more investment in the future.
“The Coalition Government’s Growing Food and Fibre initiative is also advancing strategic research and development work, like the $40 million productivity-focused partnership with Dairy Australia, to give our dairy farmers the science and skills needed to meet growing global demand.
“The Victorian Coalition Government has set the challenge of doubling Victoria’s food and fibre production by 2030 and we can achieve this through strategic research and development together with active engagement with international markets.”

Contact: Electorate Office: 274 Campbell Street SWAN HILL Vic 3585 Phone: (03) 5032 3154 Fax: (03) 5032 9483