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Giant Murray Cod

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Travel program invests in Victorias export future

Wednesday, June 04, 2014
A young agribusiness professional from Geelong has been chosen to participate in this month’s Super Trade Mission to South East Asia under the Victorian Coalition Government’s pilot Travel Support Program.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today congratulated agribusiness consultant Chris Walsh for having been chosen to travel to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand as part of the Trade Mission.
“The Travel Support Program aims to help young professionals like Chris to gain further exposure to our key export markets so they can capitalise on ongoing demand for Victorian food and fibre in the years to come,” Mr Walsh said.
“As part of the program Chris will accompany the delegation of food and beverage producers on the Trade Mission and will be supported by a grant of up to $5000 for travel expenses.
“As the Geelong-based regional sales manager for national seed company Seednet, Chris will have a great opportunity to expand his professional networks and gain deeper insights into some of our most important export markets.”
Mr Walsh said the pilot Travel Support Program was one of a wide range of Victorian Coalition Government initiatives designed to support the next generation of food and fibre producers.
“Unprecedented global demand for food and fibre is providing significant new opportunities for Victorian exporters. To fully capitalise on this and develop long-lasting trade relationships, it is vital that we support the next generation of agricultural professionals,” Mr Walsh said.
Chris said he was excited to be chosen as the successful applicant for the Travel Support Program.
“The opportunity to travel on a Super Trade Mission will allow me to connect with markets at the end point for a lot of our grain products.
“I am also looking forward to growing my professional network and, most of all, being able to come home and share my experience and knowledge with my peers, as well as the wider industry."

Scotlands former top vet to take reins in Victoria

Friday, May 30, 2014
MIinister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh has announced that Professor Charles Milne, former Chief Veterinary Officer to Scotland, will be Victoria’s head vet.
Mr Walsh said Professor Milne’s vast experience in food safety and animal disease made him well suited to the role of Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) Victoria.
“As CVO Scotland, Professor Milne provided high quality and timely veterinary advice on the prevention and control of exotic and endemic animal disease, veterinary public health, international trade and animal welfare,” Mr Walsh said.
“During his six-year tenure as CVO Scotland, Professor Milne oversaw the Scottish Government’s response to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in South East England in 2007 and developed numerous animal disease and welfare strategies.
“Australia is free of FMD, but we can learn much from the experiences of England in 2001 and 2007 where Professor Milne was instrumental in preparing and responding to the FMD outbreak on behalf of the Scottish Government.
“Professor Milne also developed an animal health and welfare scheme for Scotland – the first of its type in Europe – which has since been widely adopted.
“Preparation, and having the right skills and people, is crucial in responding to any future animal health and disease issues in Victoria. I welcome Professor Milne and his family to Victoria and am confident he will maintain the safety and standards of the Victorian livestock industry.”
A former Food Standards Agency (FSA) Director Scotland, Professor Milne also has extensive experience in developing foodborne disease strategies and managing food safety incidents.
Professor Milne will begin work on July 1.

Letter To The Editor - Animal Welfare

Monday, May 26, 2014
Dear Editor
Daniel Andrews misleads Swan Hill by saying Labor stands up for animal welfare.
During 11 years in government, Daniel Andrews and Labor did nothing to crack down on puppy farms.
In contrast, in just three years, the Victorian Coalition Government has introduced the toughest breeding code and the highest penalties in Australia: fines up to $35,000 for individuals and $86,000 for breeding businesses that don’t comply; increased aggravated cruelty fines up to $60,000 and new penalties to ban people for up to 10 years from working with or owning animals.
The strict new mandatory code of practice now includes 100-plus prescriptions breeders must follow, including mandatory vet checks, breeding limits and retirement plans as well as housing, nutrition, exercise, socialisation and staffing ratio requirements.
It is the Victorian Coalition – not Labor – that banned the use of wire floor caging, banned euthanasia by blunt force trauma and introduced breeding limits and retirement provisions.
It was the Victorian Coalition Government that introduced the $1.6 million Animal Welfare Fund, assisting groups like Rural Rescues to find new homes for dogs that end up at regional pounds, including Swan Hill’s shelter.
The Victorian Coalition Government also revoked the “28 day” rule which means shelters no longer have to put down animals not claimed within 28 days.
The Victorian Coalition Government has also already committed to the next step: updating the Code of Practice for Pet Shops to further protect puppy and kitten welfare.
The Victorian Coalition has done more to advance animal welfare in three years than Labor did in more than a decade.

Mildura exporter packs citrus punch in new markets

Thursday, May 22, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government’s investment in trade relationships and infrastructure is paying off for Sunraysia producers, with one local company reporting a 50-fold increase in exports to China.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said lowering barriers to trade had paved the way for businesses like Mildura Fruit Company (MFC) to increase access to the Chinese export market, which is growing exponentially.
“MFC has achieved phenomenal growth over the past three years, increasing citrus exports to China from eight containers in 2010 to more than 400 containers in 2014,” Mr Walsh said.
“MFC is Australia's largest orange packer and exporter, employing 180 permanent and casual staff and receiving fruit from about 120 Sunraysia producers.
“The Coalition Government has worked with MFC for a number of years to assist with market access and development.
“Just yesterday I opened a new cold disinfestation facility at Merbein to improve export processes, which the Coalition Government has co-funded with MFC and Wakefield Transport. It means fruit no longer needs to be sent to north-east Victoria for treatment to meet export protocols.
“MFC also had representation at the Victorian Food and Fibre Showcase in Shanghai during the 2013 Super Trade Mission to China, and has been introduced to key Chinese import companies like Cofco – China’s largest food company – through inward trade missions hosted by the Victorian Government.
“Assisting Victorian food and beverage businesses to increase their exports, particularly into Asian markets, is a key focus of the Coalition Government.”
Mr Wash said the Coalition’s Food to Asia Action Plan would support the state’s agriculture sector even further to put more Victorian food and beverages on Asian tables.
“By 2030 the number of consumers in Asia with disposable income will increase six-fold to about 3.5 billion people. The Food to Asia Action Plan will help Victorian producers to capitalise on the increased demand for quality food and beverages,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Action Plan is complemented by our $220 million commitment to the Murray Basin Rail Project, which will increase rail capacity to move produce to market more efficiently.”

Treatment plant saves fruit growers 500000 dollars

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
A new fruit treatment facility at Merbein will help Sunraysia’s fruit industry become more internationally competitive and save producers $500,000 a year in production costs.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh joined Member for Mildura Peter Crisp at Wakefield Transport today to officially open the $1 million facility, which was supported by a Victorian Coalition Government investment of $300,000.
“The new Export Fruit Disinfestations Treatment Facility will support the ongoing prosperity of Sunraysia’s horticultural industry and enhance the region’s ability to access overseas markets,” Mr Walsh said.
“Currently, local fruit exporters have to transport their produce some 500 kilometres to northeast Victoria for cold treatment before export, which can cause significant costs and delays.
“There are strict international protocols to meet to ensure access to growing Asian markets, so infrastructure such as this is essential for Sunraysia’s fruit growers and exporters. It also demonstrates Victoria’s commitment to producing clean and green food exports.
“The new treatment facility will mean growers and exporters can treat fruit locally before export, which is expected to save them about $500,000 per year. It will also create three fulltime and three part-time jobs, with more anticipated as the local fruit export market continues to grow.”
The treatment centre will be located at Iron Horse Intermodal, known as Wakefield Transport, which co-funded the project along with Mildura Fruit Company and the Victorian Government.
Mr Crisp said the Mildura region produced 74 per cent of Australia’s table grapes and 24 per cent of its citrus fruit varieties and is worth around $500 million to the economy.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is investing in this project through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which is investing in vital rural and regional projects,” Mr Crisp said.
“Through the Fund the Coalition Government has invested more than $35 million to support 31 projects in Mildura Rural City, leveraging almost $223 million in total investment.
“This new treatment facility will be complemented by our commitment of up to $220 million to the Murray Basin Rail Project, which will standardise the Mildura to Geelong line and improve transport efficiency and access for farmers sending their produce to our ports for export.”

Victorian Coalition delivers wild dog aerial baiting

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Victoria’s fight against wild dogs has entered a significant new phase with the start of aerial baiting on public land.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the commencement of aerial baiting fulfilled a key Victorian Coalition Government commitment and was an important step forward in Victoria’s fight against destructive wild dog populations.
“Aerial baiting took place at three sites in East Gippsland on Monday and activity will continue at three more sites in North East Victoria this week, subject to good weather conditions,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Coalition committed to aerial baiting because we understand that wild dogs take a significant financial and emotional toll on our livestock producers. We are committed to helping farmers fight back, to reduce the impact these vicious pests have on young livestock and also on Victoria’s native fauna.
“Aerial baiting has a key role in Victoria’s integrated approach to wild dog control, complementing other control measures such as trapping, ground baiting, shooting and exclusion fencing.
“I am very pleased that a change of Federal government brought common sense back to Canberra and allowed the granting of Victoria’s aerial baiting application.
“The Victorian Coalition Government allocated $1.84 million in the 2014-15 State Budget for continued 1080 baiting in remote areas, including both aerial and ground baiting activities, over the next four years.
“The start of aerial baiting this week delivers a key Coalition election commitment, and I commend local MPs Bill Sykes, Tim Bull, Bill Tilley and Tim McCurdy who have been actively engaged and lobbying hard to get better wild dog control for the farmers in their electorates.”
Mr Walsh said Monday’s aerial baiting took place in the Angora/Cobungra, Bindi and Wonangatta/Punchen Budwied areas of East Gippsland and would continue in the Burrowa, Bullhead and Wabba areas of North East Victoria in the coming days if weather permits.
These sites were chosen for their inaccessibility and remoteness, proximity to private land where wild dog attacks have been reported, and the absence of spot tailed quolls,” Mr Walsh said.
Since 2011 the Victorian Coalition Government’s actions to improve wild dog control include:
· Commencing aerial baiting for wild dog control in remote, inaccessible areas;
· Launching the Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan in December 2013;
· Building a flexible and responsive team of wild dog controllers to respond to incident reports quickly and efficiently with maximum effect;
· Redirecting a 2012-13 funding allocation to a large scale ground baiting program when the previous Commonwealth government refused to permit aerial baiting;
· Reintroducing Lanes traps, and maintaining the 72 hour check rule for traps;
· Introducing a wild dog pelt bounty, and doubling the bounty to $100 in January 2013, with 1,297 skins handed in so far;
· Establishing community baiting programs, including allowing farmers to bait outside their property boundaries;
· Establishing the Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee to provide strategic advice;
· Cutting red tape to improve access to fresh meat baits;
· Cutting red tape so wild dog controllers can work outside the 3km buffer zone;
· Providing wild dog controllers with iPads so they can log data in the field, and spend less time in the office; and
· Over 12 months, enabling wild dog controllers to trap or shoot 499 wild dogs and lay more than 18,000 baits.

Letter To the Editor - Budget

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government’s 2014-15 Budget is supporting a more productive and profitable food and fibre sector and stronger regional communities.
One of the key investments out of the State Budget is funding of up to $220 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project, which includes the standardisation of the Mildura to Geelong line.
This project will significantly improve the movement of freight across the state and supports the target of doubling food and fibre production by 2030, because it provides the infrastructure to get that extra produce to market efficiently.
The rail line upgrades have been talked about for years, but is has taken a Victorian Coalition Government to see it happen.
An additional $1.84 million for aerial and ground baiting of wild dogs in the 2014-15 Budget will help Victorian livestock farmers fight back against these vicious and destructive pests. This is in addition to the $14 million forecast to be spent on wild dog control in the next four years.
Wild dogs can reduce productivity and take an emotional and financial toll on livestock producers, having an estimated financial impact of $13-18 million annually. This Budget funding is the continuation of three years of hard work by the Victorian Coalition Government to improve wild dog control in our state.
On top of these initiatives we are further strengthening regional and rural communities by investing an additional $7.6 million in flood protection measures. This will fund flood mitigation works such as levee constructions, the completion of flood risk mapping, and preparing the Victorian Rural Drainage Strategy.
By supporting our state’s farmers and their communities, the Victorian Coalition Government’s 2014-15 Budget is helping to build a better Victoria.

Top Asian buyers scope Victorias apple industry

Wednesday, May 07, 2014
Major fruit industry importers and retailers from Asia are flocking to Victoria in search of new trade opportunities to help meet growing global demand for premium fruit.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said Victorian Coalition Government and industry representatives last week led 10 importers on a fact-finding mission for Victoria’s Pink Lady apple industry.
The delegation – from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and China – visited apple packing sheds at Nine Mile Fresh in Tynong and Montague Fresh Orchard in Narre Warren. They also toured the Melbourne Wholesale Market and visited a major Victorian supermarket.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to helping our food and fibre producers enter new export markets and grow existing markets,” Mr Walsh said.
“Inward trade missions are a great opportunity for Victorian producers to showcase their fruit and build relationships with key importers from the growing Asian market.
“The growing middle-class population in Asia means more consumers there are demanding the high-quality products that Victoria can provide. This visit is one of many steps in developing that export relationship under the Victorian Coalition Government’s Food to Asia Action Plan.”
Mr Walsh said the visit was part of a three year partnership with Apple and Pear Australia Ltd which is expected to increase Victorian apple and pear exports by at least 10 per cent by 2015.
“This shows the value in the Coalition Government’s commitment to partnering with industry bodies that are willing to co-invest,” Mr Walsh said.
“For example, another promotion of Pink Lady tm apples to Malaysia last year under this partnership resulted in a 66 per cent increase in Australian apple exports to Malaysia.
“The Coalition Government will continue to work with APAL and other industry bodies to grow exports, put more Victorian food on Asian tables and drive Victoria’s long term economic growth.”
APAL CEO John Dollisson said Asian buyers and consumers were impressed by Pink Lady apples’ taste and quality.
“Australia’s reputation for high food safety standards is also a great asset. With Pink Lady apples making up 44 per cent of apples grown in the Goulburn Valley, we see huge potential for increasing exports of them,” Mr Dollisson said.

Victorian Coalition invests for a stronger farming sector

Tuesday, May 06, 2014
The Coalition Government will continue to build a stronger food and fibre sector with $41.2 million in new initiatives in the 2014-15 Victorian State Budget, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said today.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $35.4 million over four years for the Food into Asia Action Plan, which will help drive significant increases in the volume and value of food exports to Asian markets in future years as we work towards the goal of doubling agricultural production in Victoria by 2030,” Mr Walsh said.
“On top of the four year funding commitment, the Coalition Government has also allocated a further $6 million each year thereafter so that the Strategy continues to deliver benefits for farmers into the future.
“The 2014-15 Budget also delivers up to $220 million for the transformational Murray Basin Rail Project, which was identified as a key priority in the Food to Asia Action Plan to improve freight movements from growers to markets,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said the Budget would also assist in the war against wild dogs with an additional $1.84 million allocated for aerial and ground baiting that will help farmers in North East Victoria and Gippsland.
“This new investment comes in addition to $14 million already forecast for wild dog control over the next four years to help farmers fight back against these vicious pests,” Mr Walsh said
The 2014-15 Victorian State Budget also includes $2.3 million to help establish a poppy industry in Victoria, which will be used to deliver the regulatory framework as well as the necessary secure licensing and registration database.
“This investment will provide the poppy industry with security and the ability to meet rising global demand for therapeutic drugs, while creating new opportunities for Victoria’s primary producers,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Budget also includes $1.635 million to deliver the Goulburn Valley fruit growing industry concessional loan package, a key component in the Coalition Government’s 15-year plan to open up new export markets and help fruit businesses diversify and expand.”
In addition to the new initiatives, Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government is also spending $72 million on agricultural research, development and extension in 2014-15, and this funding will be further enhanced with leveraged investment from strategic industry partnerships.

Native fish stocking tops 8 million in four years

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Victorian Coalition Government continues to improve recreational fishing opportunities across the state with more than two million native fish stocked into lakes and rivers for the fourth consecutive year.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the total included more than 1.2 million golden perch and a record 107,000 estuary perch fingerlings. Also stocked were Murray Cod, trout cod, Australian bass, Macquarie perch, silver perch and catfish.
“The Coalition Government recognises the economic and social contribution of recreational fishing to our state and is committed to improving opportunities for anglers,” Mr Walsh said.
“These native fish stockings have been funded by fishing licence fees and the Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative.
“The Initiative is also installing fish cleaning tables and fishing reefs, expanding angler access, improving fish passageways and strengthening fisheries enforcement and education.
“The Coalition Government is helping to ensure that Victoria remains a top fishing destination for local and visiting anglers.”
Mr Walsh said Fisheries Victoria’s Snobs Creek Hatchery had produced a significant number of the native fish stocked, including 514,000 Murray cod.
“Snobs Creek also produced very good numbers of Macquarie perch and trout cod, both of which are classified as threatened species. Trout cod remain off limits to anglers for now while several stocked fisheries are developed,” Mr Walsh said.
Most Murray cod were stocked into Lake Nagambie, the Goulburn River, Gunbower Creek, Loddon River, Kangaroo Lake, Lake Eppalock, Lake Eildon and Cairn Curran Reservoir.
Waters stocked with golden perch included Lake Eppalock, Lake Hume, Loddon River, Campaspe River, Lake Eildon, Kow Swamp, Broken River, Wimmera River and Taylors Lake.
Visit for a list of waters stocked with native fish in 2013/14.

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