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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.

Grant to help egg cooperative crack new markets

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
A farmer cooperative representing one third of Victorian egg production is the first to benefit from the Victorian Coalition Government’s Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh visited Bridgewater Poultry Farm today, a member of the newly-formed Ausnovus Cooperative Group.
Mr Walsh said Ausnovus had received $50,000 from the Coalition Government to help cover costs associated with establishment, including business planning and feasibility studies, technical advice and legal fees. It will also help Ausnovus progress to a zero-waste management system with the establishment of a biodigester fertiliser plant.
“The Coalition Government is committed to assisting our state’s food and fibre businesses to increase their production levels and achieve greater market access, whether it’s domestic or overseas,” Mr Walsh said.
“By forming a cooperative, farm businesses can work as a collective rather than individuals when marketing and supplying their product. This provides greater bargaining power.
“Where one farm business on its own can experience fluctuations in production, a group of farms working together can ensure greater consistency of supply.
“This is appealing for major buyers such as supermarket chains and large international importers when they know there will be a consistent, quality supply of produce.
“I have set a target for Victorian food and fibre producers to double production by 2030 and supporting the establishment of marketing cooperatives will help to achieve that goal, by both opening new markets and reducing farm costs through bulk purchasing.”
AusNovus Cooperative Group consists of 12 egg producers with 1.5 million birds across Victoria. These producers account for about 32 per cent of the state’s total egg production.
“We are aiming to build the critical mass and volume of supply necessary for better market access, namely to major supermarket chains and food distribution companies, and act as a marketing hub,” AusNovus Business Consultant Shirof Khan said.
The Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants of up to $50,000 will be available until June 2015 to eligible farm groups. The program is managed through Rural Finance. For more information, visit

Helping ags next generation to spread their wings

Sunday, April 27, 2014
A new pilot program will provide a young food and fibre professional with the chance to accompany the Victorian delegation on a Super Trade Mission to South East Asia in June.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government’s pilot Travel Support Program was also offering up to $5,000 to the chosen candidate for travel costs.
“This program will help the next generation of food and fibre producers and agribusiness professionals to capitalise on Victoria's growing export markets,” Mr Walsh said.
“We know Victoria is well positioned to capture opportunities emerging from Asia’s growth but there is a real need to ensure the next generation has the right skills and knowledge for Victoria to remain internationally competitive.
“By accompanying the Victorian Government’s delegation at the next Super Trade Mission, the chosen candidate will gain exposure to export markets while meeting role models in the industry they can learn from.
“Depending on the success of the pilot program there may be opportunities in the future for more young food and fibre professionals to attend.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting the next generation of food and fibre producers. This support includes The Grow Your Food and Fibre Career initiative which helps young professionals expand their agriculture knowledge, both here and overseas.
“I have set a target for Victoria’s food and fibre producers to double production by 2030 and supporting our next generation will help ensure the industry’s long-term, sustainable growth.”
Applications for the Travel Support Program are open until 16 May 2014 to all financial members of the Victorian Young Farmers or the Young Agribusiness Professionals, aged 18 or over.
To join VYF or YAPs, visit their respective websites or call the DEPI Young Farmer Coordinator on (03) 9637 9153. Eligible young professionals can also apply by going to

Easter anglers warned ahead of Operation Radius

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Victorian Fisheries Officers will be out in force over the extended Easter period as part of Operation Radius to ensure recreational anglers are complying with fishing rules.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said Fisheries Victoria compliance officers would target be on the lookout for unlawful inland anglers from the Easter weekend until after Anzac Day.
“Traditionally, large numbers of anglers head inland during Easter to chase trout, redfin, yabbies, golden perch and Murray cod in Victoria’s rivers and lakes,” Mr Walsh said.
“A taskforce of Fisheries Officers will be patrolling these areas, conducting enforcement and education activities to ensure compliance with bag and size limits, equipment restrictions and licensing requirements.
“Anglers should expect to see Officers wearing full uniforms and driving marked vehicles, undertaking inspections from boats and the shore and patrolling less frequented waterways.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government recognised the social and economic benefits of recreational fishing and was committed to ensuring its sustainable future.
“The Victorian Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative is helping to fund Operation Radius, as well as extra fisheries patrols after hours, during weekends and over public holidays,” Mr Walsh said.
“Extra Fisheries patrols along the Victorian coast in bays and inlets, estuaries and offshore during Easter will also be held to complement Operation Radius.
“While a majority of anglers do the right thing we need to make sure the unlawful minority abides by our fishing rules.”
Legal recreational fishing equipment and catch limits are outlined in the 2014 Recreational Fishing Guide, available free from most bait and tackle shops and all DEPI offices.
“Anglers can also download the free mobile phone app, Vic Fishing, where they can also buy a licence online and connect to the 13FISH reporting line,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh urged anglers who see or suspect illegal fishing to call 13FISH (133 474).

New protocol bears fruit for Yarra Valley growers

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
A new pest-free protocol is allowing Yarra Valley berry and cherry growers to get produce into fruit fly-sensitive domestic markets without the need for disinfestation treatment.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today announced the first consignments of fruit certified under the new Yarra Valley Pest Free Places of Production (PFPP) protocol have been successfully dispatched to South Australia.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to helping Victoria’s fruit growers build their businesses and this successful industry-government partnership will help increase profitability and market access for Yarra Valley berry and cherry growers,” Minister Walsh said.
“Yarra Valley berry and cherry growers and the Victorian Government have worked together to develop the new protocol, which is based on proving the absence of Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) on accredited fruit-growing properties in the area.
“Accredited Yarra Valley berry and cherry growers can now use the new protocol to gain access to fruit fly sensitive domestic markets in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as the rest of the country.
“The new Yarra Valley PFPP protocol is the first arrangement of its kind in Australia in that it applies to the berry and cherry industries on a large scale.”
Changes to Victoria’s QFF status in 2013 meant that fruit exported to QFF sensitive states first had to undergo disinfestation treatment, which is an additional cost for growers.
“The Yarra Valley protocol is a great example of how the Victorian Coalition Government is working in partnership with regional industries to build a better Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Government and the Yarra Valley industry will continue to work together to explore future opportunities to pursue international market access under the PFPP protocol.”
The Yarra Valley PFPP is funded by the Yarra Valley berry and cherry industries involved, Horticulture Australia Limited, Agribusiness Yarra Valley and the Victorian Government.
More information about the Yarra Valley PFPP is available at

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