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Duck season set to open in Victoria this weekend

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
· Victorian duck hunting season opens Saturday with 10 new State Game Reserves
· Some wetlands will be closed to hunting
· Victorian Coalition Government encourages responsible game hunting
The Victorian duck season begins this Saturday, with 10 new State Game Reserves securing more habitat for waterfowl and improving hunting opportunities across the state.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government encouraged the state’s 25,000 licensed hunters to act responsibly during the 12-week season, including adhering to the bag limit of 10 game birds per day.
“Victoria has some of the best duck hunting opportunities in Australia and hunters generate important economic activity in Victorian rural towns and regional centres,” Mr Walsh said.
“Following the Victorian Environment Assessment Council’s River Red Gum Forest Investigation, 10 additional reserves will now be classified as State Game Reserves for duck hunting while another six temporary State Game Reserves will become permanent.
“State Game Reserves are managed by Parks Victoria and are highly valued by the hunting community, as they provide a productive and secure habitat for waterbirds.”
However, Mr Walsh said five wetlands will be closed in full this season and another wetland will be partially closed, following the completion of the annual waterfowl counts.
“The Department of Environment and Primary Industries annual waterfowl count found there were substantial numbers of freckled duck and blue-billed duck in some locations,” Mr Walsh said.
“By closing wetlands where appropriate, we are ensuring rare and threatened species are protected while still enabling duck hunters to enjoy their recreation.”
The wetlands to be fully closed are: Round Lake at Lake Boga; Hird Swamp at Kerang; Bartlett’s Swamp at Boort; Lake Natimuk at Natimuk; and Lake Colac at Colac. Part of Lake Connewarre State Game Reserve near Geelong will also be closed.
Kow Swamp, east of Kerang, and Reedy Lakes at Kerang, will also be closed to reinforce their status as wildlife sanctuaries.
All people present at wetlands during duck hunting season must act responsibly and lawfully. The season opens Saturday 15 March at 7.10am in the eastern zone, 7.20am in the central zone and 7.30am in the western zone, and closes half an hour after sunset on Monday 9 June.
For more information on the 2014 duck season visit or on the new State Game Reserves visit


Friday, March 07, 2014
• A total of 45 Show Societies shared in over $265,000 funding
• Includes upgrades to airconditioning, access roads, toilets and pavilions
• Rural shows a great boost to local economies
 Show societies across regional Victoria are sharing in $265,830 from the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government to help them improve and update facilities for the benefit of their local communities.
 The Nationals Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh, said that regional and rural show days provide a boost to local economies and an opportunity for communities to come together, while showcasing the area’s agriculture to both locals and visitors.
 “The Coalition Government recognises the important role that agricultural and pastoral shows play in their local communities and is committed to supporting them into the future.
 “Under the 2013-14 Agricultural and Pastoral Society Grants Program, 45 show societies have received grants to help them to continue their great work”, Mr Walsh said.
“Local show societies to benefit include Boort Agricultural & Pastoral Society which received $10,000 to upgrade its pavilion, Donald Pastoral & Agricultural Society received $4,600 to purchase tables and safety equipment, Minyip Show Society got $5,123 to upgrade toilet facilities at the showgrounds and Swan Hill & District Agricultural & Pastoral Society received $7,012 to upgrade the show society kitchen.
 “Each year the Grants Program provides grants of up to $10,000 for improving facilities that promote agriculture and arts and crafts.
 “The program also offers grants of up to $8,000 to install or upgrade showground amenities and up to $5,000 for business activities such as workshops, planning and surveys”, explained Mr Walsh.
 “The grants are conditional on show societies providing $1 for every $2 contributed by the Victorian Government.
 “Since 2000, the program has provided more than $2 million for a range of projects including upgrading pavilions and display facilities, installing new power facilities and building new fences and livestock yards”, Mr Walsh said.
 For more information on the Agricultural and Pastoral Society Grants program go to

35 Million Dollar Food to Asia Action Plan Launched

Thursday, March 06, 2014
• The Action Plan will be a key driver of economic growth and jobs across Victoria
• It is designed to get more Victorian food and beverages on Asian tables
• The Action Plan brings the Coalition’s support for growing Victoria’s agricultural production and food processing sector to almost $160 million
 Premier Denis Napthine yesterday launched Victoria’s Food to Asia Action Plan which will deliver a more profitable food sector and create new and sustainable jobs in the Swan Hill community.
 The Nationals Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh, said that The Plan provides an opportunity for local businesses and producers to take advantage of the rapid growth of Asia’s consumer class and their requirement for premium food and beverages.
The $35.4 million Food to Asia Action Plan will:-
• strengthen representation of Victoria’s food sector in Asian markets
• focus research and development investments on food that meets Asian consumer preferences, and
• will deliver a Food to Asia Trade Program.
 “The Plan builds on the work the Coalition Government has already undertaken to grow production and jobs in the agricultural and food processing sectors throughout Victoria and in the Swan Hill electorate. 
“Agriculture and horticulture and their associated food industries and vast service sector are the economic drivers of the Swan Hill electorate”, Mr Walsh said.
“$62.6 million has been invested in the Victorian International Engagement Strategy that has resulted in 555 Victorian food and beverage companies travelling to Asia as part of 13 trade missions since July, 2012.
 “These trade missions have resulted in a projected $1.13 billion worth of exports for Victoria.
 “$61.4 million has been invested in the Growing Food and Fibre program to double food and fibre production by 2030.
 “Victoria’s food and fibre exports increased 5 per cent last financial year.
 “There can be no doubt that Victoria is Australia’s premier food state, it is our largest export sector and the Government’s investment will ensure this remains so well into the future, “ Mr Walsh said.

Victorian exports take a major step forward into Asia

Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Food to Asia Action Plan is a major step forward for Victorian exports in Asia One in six jobs in regional and rural Victoria are in the food sector Victorian Coalition Government commits $35 million to drive economic growth in Asia
Victoria’s food sector will thrive in Asia as the continent’s demand for food increases massively by 2050, Premier Denis Napthine announced today.
Launching the first Food to Asia Action Plan at the opening of the International Food and Beverage Trade Week, Dr Napthine stressed the importance of capitalising on Victorian food and fibre exports.
“Today Victoria takes a major step forward in capitalising on export opportunities in Asia,” Dr Napthine said.
“That is why the Victorian Coalition Government has committed $35.4 million to drive Victoria’s long term growth as demand from Asia grows.
“This is about entrenching Victoria’s position as Australia’s premier food and agriculture state.”
The Action Plan funding builds on existing commitments, including the $61.4 million invested in the Growing Food and Fibre program to double food and fibre production by 2030, and Victoria’s $62.6 million International Engagement Strategy.
“The food sector directly employs about 145,000 Victorians, accounting for one in six jobs in regional and rural Victoria,” Dr Napthine said.
“By 2030, the number of consumers in Asia with discretionary spending will increase sixfold to around 3.5 billion people as demand for food increases exponentially.
“We need to capitalise on Victoria’s strong track-record in international agricultural production with food and fibre exports increasing to more than $9.4 billion in 2012-13, up 5 per cent on the previous year.”
International Food and Beverage Trade Week is the Victorian Coalition Government’s key inbound trade mission program, attracting more than 240 senior food and beverage buyers from across Asia to Melbourne this week.
Dr Napthine was joined by Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh who said the Action Plan would put more clean, green Victorian produce into higher valued Asian export markets, and bring benefit both to farmers and food businesses.
“Victoria is already highly regarded as a grower and supplier of premium, safe food for more than 100 markets worldwide but there is significant opportunity to grow our efforts,” Mr Walsh said.
"Our strong farming and food manufacturing reputations are enviable trading advantages as we position Victoria to become a leader in exports of high quality food products to Asia."
The Food to Asia Action Plan can be accessed at

New 15 year plan for Goulburn Valley orchardists

Tuesday, March 04, 2014
· Long-term plan launched for Goulburn Valley’s fruit growers
· New Centre of Excellence, concessional loans and business development
· Victorian Coalition Government supporting Goulburn Valley community
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today launched a 15-year plan for the Goulburn Valley fruit industry, focused on opening up new export markets and helping fruit businesses to diversify and expand.
“The Goulburn Valley Fruit Industry Growing Roadmap will underpin the future success of the Goulburn Valley fruit industry, including a new horticulture Centre of Excellence, a $16 million concessional loans package and business planning program,” Mr Walsh said.
The Roadmap was released alongside the Goulburn Valley Industry and Employment Plan which was launched by Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and the Member for Shepparton Jeanette Powell.
“The Victorian Coalition Government recognises the importance of the Goulburn Valley’s fruit industry – which currently produces 90 per cent of Australia’s processed fruit. Horticulture contributes to 30 per cent of the region’s value of agricultural production, compared with 31 per cent for dairy,” Mr Walsh said.
“We have already acted to help secure a long-term future for SPC Ardmona and the Roadmap will now ensure that Goulburn Valley fruit growing businesses have clear direction moving forward.”
Mr Walsh said the new Horticulture Centre of Excellence in Tatura would host new roles of Principal Scientist, Business Development Manager and Industry Development Officer.
“Our scientists will undertake leading horticulture research and development focusing on consumers trends in Asia – a fast-growing export market for the industry,” Mr Walsh said.
“A total of $170 million worth of Victorian horticulture was exported to North Asia in 2012/13, a 30 per cent increase on the previous year, which confirms we should all continue to have confidence in this industry.
“The Centre of Excellence will also act as a regional hub for horticulture industry development, and will help improve coordination between growers and governments as we tackle issues such as expanding market access.
“The Coalition Government is committed to assisting Goulburn Valley stone and pome fruit growers take advantage of emerging export and domestic opportunities,” Mr Walsh said.
Concessional loans will be offered to support farm businesses who purchase the properties of fruit growers affected by the recent downturn. The loans will be offered from 1 July 2014 by Rural Finance Corporation at a concessional rate of 4.5 per cent over three years.
To read the Goulburn Valley Fruit Industry Growing Roadmap go to
For enquiries about the Goulburn Valley Concessional Loans program contact the Rural Finance Corporation on 1800 260 425 or go to

Victoria and Oman focused on food security

Saturday, March 01, 2014
· Victoria and Oman sign Memorandum of Understanding on food security
· Oman seeking Victorian food and expertise to secure future food supply
· Victorian Coalition Government supporting farmers to grow export markets
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh and his counterpart in Oman have agreed to develop a memorandum of understanding centred on food production, research and development and education.
As part of the Victorian Coalition Government's Super Trade Mission to the Middle East, Mr Walsh this week met with Oman's Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Dr Fuad Jaffer Al Sajwani and other senior government officials in the capital Muscat.
Mr Walsh said during the meeting the officials expressed a strong view that it was time to take the relationship between Oman and Victoria to the ‘next level’ for their mutual benefit.
"Oman is very wisely focused on its future food security and is looking to Victoria not only for more food but for expertise in water management and for partnerships in agribusiness," Mr Walsh said.
"The country also recognises Victoria as a home of world-class agricultural research that may play an important role in helping to lift productivity in its own farm sector.
"With Australian universities already a popular choice for many Omani students, their Government is also looking to Victoria for vocational education and training in agricultural and veterinary science.
"For all these reasons we have agreed to formalise our relationship as part of a concerted focus on mutually beneficial joint ventures, partnerships, collaborative research and educational agreements."
Oman is one of several countries that make up the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, the second most important market for Victorian food and fibre exporters.
Exports of Victorian food and fibre to MENA increased 15 per cent in 2012-13 to $1.25 billion.
"We want to be seen as a long term partner to Oman supplying reliable and high quality food year in, year out," Mr Walsh said.
"But it's not just about exporting more food, it's also about helping other countries to lift their own productive capacity.
"This memorandum of understanding will give Oman greater access to Victoria's research capacity, agronomic expertise and agribusiness know-how, leading to long term productivity benefits that will help to safeguard the country's food security."

Walsh leads first ever Victorian trade mission to Iraq

Thursday, February 27, 2014

· Minister leads trade mission of leading exporters to Iraq
· Victorian exporters can help meet Iraq’s need for food and irrigation expertise
· Victorian Coalition Government supporting farmers to increase exports
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh has led a delegation of leading exporters to Iraq and met with key senior government officials to explore opportunities for increasing exports of both food and expertise from Victoria.
Mr Walsh travelled from Dubai to Bagdad this week with Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin and Cargill Australia Managing Director Philippa Purser during the Victorian Coalition Government's Super Trade Mission to the Middle East.
He said notwithstanding on-going security issues in Iraq, it held significant potential for Victorian exporters and that a number of other countries had already established themselves as suppliers of food and agronomic and water management expertise.
"During our visit we met with the Iraqi Trade Minister, the Deputy Ministers of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the Chair of the National Investment Commission, business leaders and the Australian Ambassador to Iraq, Lyndall Sachs," Mr Walsh said.
"They were keen to impress upon us that Iraq is open for business and in need of large quantities of both food and expertise in irrigated agriculture from Australia and elsewhere.
"Iraq remains in the early stages of rebuilding and on-going political unrest is hampering that progress.
"Victoria can be a major food supplier of food to Iraq as we seek to double agricultural production by 2030.
"And given the expertise we have built up in water and salinity management over the past 30 years, there is a real opportunity for us to play a major role in rebuilding Iraq’s irrigated agricultural sector so that the country can regain some degree of self-sufficiency in food production.
"Those companies involved in working through the significant salinity and water management issues of the Murray Darling Basin are ideally placed to play a leading role in helping Iraq.
"Any exporters considering Iraq need to be acutely aware of its security issues, but they will also find their product and expertise highly sought after."
Mr Walsh said while Victorian exports to Iraq were relatively small compared to those shipped to some other countries, the value of food exported there in 2012-13 increased by more than 1,000 per cent to $59 million.
Key among these exports were grain, worth $53 million, and cheese, worth $4 million.
Mr Walsh said Australian wheat exports to Iraq had grown from 9,000 tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes in 2012-13 and that Iraqis favoured Australian white wheat due to its superior milling qualities for flat bread.
He said on top of their enthusiasm for more Victorian food, Iraqi Government officials were also interested in the state's grain bunkers and storage systems.
During the meetings, Mr Walsh also raised the need to develop inspection protocols for Australian meat exported directly to Iraq to reduce costs for meat exporters.
This week's visit to Iraq follows a visit to Victoria by the Iraqi Agriculture and Acting Environment Minister in March last year.

Fox and Wild Dog Bounty collection resumes

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
· Fox and Wild Dog Bounty collections resume on Monday 3 March
· More than 243,000 fox scalps and 1,000 wild dog pieces handed in so far
· Victorian Coalition Government supports farmers in fight against foxes and wild dogs
The Victorian Fox and Wild Dog Bounty resumes next week, encouraging hunters to continue their vital contribution in the management of these destructive pest animals.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said eligible participants would be able to submit fox scalps and wild dog pieces at designated collection centres across the state from Monday 3 March.
“Foxes and wild dogs prey on native fauna and vulnerable livestock, particularly newborn lambs and calves, and can have devastating impacts on livestock owners,” Mr Walsh said.
“As I have said before, the only good fox is a dead fox.
“The bounty continues to play an important role in the Victorian Coalition Government’s integrated approach to fox and wild dog control, in combination with other control methods such as trapping and ground baiting.
“More than 243,000 fox scalps and 1,000 wild dog pelts were handed in between October 2011 and October 2013 with more than $2.5 million paid out under the bounty.
“The Coalition Government is committed to helping our state’s farmers control these vicious pests, unlike the former Labor Party whose Fox Stop program only eradicated 20,034 foxes in three years.”
Eligible participants can submit entire fox scalps at 21 designated collection centres and wild dog pelts at seven designated collection centres at scheduled times.
Mr Walsh said the first week of collections would occur in the state’s northwest.
“The Department of Environment and Primary Industries is expecting a large number of hunters during the first few months of collections, as autumn usually sees a peak in fox hunting activity as young or displaced foxes move to find new territories,” Mr Walsh said.
There are some minor changes to the collection schedule that hunters should note leading into 2014 collections.
For more information on the Victorian Fox and Wild Dog Bounty collection schedule, including changes and updates for 2014, go to

Local knowledge sought in fight against wild dogs

Wednesday, February 26, 2014
 · Community workshops seeking local input into wild dog management plans
· Ensuring local communities have their say on wild dog control in their area
· Victorian Coalition Government understands devastating impact of wild dogs
The Victorian Coalition Government will hold a series of community workshops in autumn to seek local input into the development of new Wild Dog Management Zone Work Plan.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the work plans were a key part of the Coalition Government’s Action Plan for Managing Wild Dogs in Victoria launched in December last year.
“Wild dogs have a devastating impact on farmers and communities, and the Victorian Coalition Government is committed to helping landholders control the vicious and destructive pests,” Mr Walsh said.
“As part of the action plan, local area work plans will be developed for each of the 15 wild dog management zones in East Gippsland and North East Victoria.
“The work plans will specify operational targets on both private and public land and will ensure a coordinated, integrated approach to wild dog management.
“Local communities will be provided an opportunity to contribute their knowledge and help guide the direction of their area’s plan during workshops in March and April.
“The workshops will also provide an opportunity for landholders to find out more about Community Wild Dog Control Groups and will help landholders complete native vegetation clearance consent forms for protecting dog fencing on public-private land boundaries.”
Mr Walsh said on top of increasing the effectiveness of trapping, the Action Plan for Managing Wild Dogs in Victoria also included an increase in the number of baits laid to almost 20,000 this year, commitments to improve access to fresh 1,080 baits and the removal of red tape hindering control efforts.
“Industry and government need to work together to reduce the impacts of wild dogs, using all available tools including trapping, baiting, shooting, exclusion fencing and good animal husbandry,” Mr Walsh said.
Dates and venues for the Wild Dog Management Zone Work Plan workshops will be advertised locally in coming weeks and are also available at

World summit told of Victorian food export potential

Monday, February 24, 2014
· Minister makes lead international address at high-level summit
· International audience told of Victoria’s food and fibre export capability
· Victorian Coalition Government supporting farmers to meet growing demand
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh has delivered the lead international address at a high-level summit in the Middle East on the challenges of meeting global food security in the coming decades.
Speaking at the World Food Security Summit in Dubai as part of the Victorian Coalition Government's Super Trade Mission to the Middle East, Mr Walsh said Victoria's investment in the food and fibre sector would significantly enlarge its role in guaranteeing the region's food security.
Mr Walsh said Victoria's natural advantages and its focus on research, market development, infrastructure and freight logistics made it ideally placed to meet unprecedented demand from the Middle East and Asia.
"While food and agribusiness is Victoria's most valuable export sector, we are positioned to play an even greater role in meeting the region's food security requirements in the coming years and decades," Mr Walsh said.
"The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to playing a greater role in supplying food to the region and we are doing this in to two key ways.
"We are investing in research and development, in irrigation infrastructure and in our freight and logistics capabilities, with the aim of doubling production by 2030.
"We are also creating opportunities for Victorian businesses and helping them connect to markets throughout the Middle East, South East Asia and China and, importantly, to meet the specific needs of those markets.”
Mr Walsh told Summit delegates that Victoria was Australia's largest agricultural exporter and the nation's biggest food supplier to the Middle East and North Africa, having exported $1.25 billion of produce to the region in 2012-13.
Mr Walsh said Victoria was ideally positioned to substantially increase production thanks to its temperate climate, soil types, world class food safety and biosecurity systems, modern irrigation infrastructure and cutting edge agricultural science.
The World Food Security Summit was held as part of Gulfood, the world's largest food and hospitality trade fair, and was designed to explore ideas for achieving global food security in the face of rapid population growth and economic development.
Other keynote speakers included: the United Arab Emirates' Assistant Undersecretary for Agriculture Affairs, H.E. Engineer Saif Al-Shara; the Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture in Canada, Lyle Stewart; and the Argentine Foreign Affairs Minister, Hector Timerman.
The Super Trade Mission to the Middle East, which is being led by Minister for Employment and Trade Louise Asher, comprises more than 100 Victorian companies, including 60 from the food and agribusiness sector.

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