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Giant Murray Cod

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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 www.depi.vic.gov.au/feesatwork2014

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 www.depi.vic.gov.au/troutrecovery

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.”

Coalition funds fish motels at Boga and Kangaroo lakes

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Around 100 man-made timber ‘fish motels’ are being installed in Kangaroo Lake and Lake Boga as part of a $262,500 project to enhance native fish habitat and improve recreational fishing opportunities.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security, and Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh said the specially-designed timber structures, which mimic the natural habitat provided by submerged trees, would create new homes for golden perch and Murray cod.
“The Victorian Coalition Government stocks both species into these lakes to improve fishing opportunities so it is important we ensure they have the right habitat in which to shelter and feed,” Mr Walsh said.
“As both lakes are water storages for irrigation, they lack woody habitat. Through this project up to 44 timber structures – also known as ‘snags’ – will be installed in the southern part of Kangaroo Lake, while a further 50 will be installed in the middle of Lake Boga.”
Mr Walsh said the habitat project had been funded by fishing licence fees and the Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative.
“The Coalition Government understands the importance of recreational fishing to Victoria and the social and economic contribution it makes to regional communities, including Kerang and Swan Hill,” Mr Walsh said.
“We introduced the Recreational Fishing Initiative to improve fishing opportunities across the state.It has funded boating facility upgrades, more fish stockings, new fish cleaning tables, the installation of fishing reefs into bays and inlets, and increased fisheries education.
“The Napthine Coalition Government has done more to improve recreational fishing in three and-a-half years than Labor achieved in more than a decade.”
The habitat project at Lake Boga and Kangaroo Lake was developed in consultation with angling and community groups to ensure the structures do not impact adversely on other recreational users of the lakes.
“All of the snag sites will be marked with navigation buoys clearly visible above the surface of the water so boating and skiing will not be impacted,” Mr Walsh said.
“The effectiveness of the structures will also be carefully monitored and will help inform other lake-based fish habitat restoration projects.”

Coalition building a busier beekeeping industry

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government is providing a further boost to the state’s honey bee industry with the introduction of the Primary Industries Legislation Amendment Bill 2014 into Parliament today.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the Bill included a number of changes to the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 that would complement measures already undertaken through the Coalition Government’s Putting the buzz back into agriculture initiative.
The changes will:
· Reduce annual beekeeping registration to every two years, meaning less red tape for beekeepers;
· Include a member of the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) on the Apicultural Industry Advisory Committee, to provide greater expertise on the importance of beekeeping to the state’s horticultural sectors; and
· Improve biosecurity by allowing inspectors to destroy equipment that is illegally placed or suspected of disease without requiring written approval below a value of $12,000, increased from $3,000.
“The honey bee industry makes a vital contribution to the production of bee pollination dependent crops and to Victoria’s economy, through the delivery of commercial pollination services,” Mr Walsh said.
“For example, the $500 million almond industry in Australia relies on honey bee pollination – without it, almond flowers will not set nuts.
“Putting the buzz back into agriculture was introduced by the Coalition Government in 2011 and included $250,000 to quickly detect and respond to the presence of varroa mite should it ever arrive in Victoria, and funding to reinstate ‘lost’ public land apiary sites.
“The Coalition Government is committed to building more productive agricultural industries in Victoria and these changes will help achieve this by providing valuable support to our beekeeping industry,” Mr Walsh said.

Awards celebrate leading science researchers

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Victoria’s reputation for excellence in science was confirmed today at the 2014 Department of environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) Science Awards at Parliament House.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the awards recognised the talented and dedication within DEPI and Victoria’s agricultural and environmental science communities.
“DEPI relies on science to deliver innovation, economic growth, environmental protection and emergency management. Science is an investment in our future,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is particularly focused on investing in research, development and extension programs to enable farmers to double food and fibre production by 2030 – a goal that many of these award winners are helping to achieve.”
The 2014 Science Award winners are:
Hugh McKay Partnership Award – DEPI’s Beef and Sheep Networks, led by veterinarian Dr John Webb Ware, have increased the profitability and sustainability of livestock enterprises across Victoria.
Daniel McAlpine Science Award – DEPI’s EverGraze project, led by Dr Ralph Brehrendt, has helped 4,400 producers nationally to improve sustainability through the use of perennial pastures since 2004.
David Ashton Environmental Science Award – DEPI’s Native Fish Strategy, led by John Koehn, is helping restore native fish to 60 per cent of pre-settlement levels in the Murray- Darling Basin.
Inaugural Emergency Management Award – DEPI’s response, led by John Barker, to eradicate an incursion of Northern Pacific Seastar at Tidal River in 2012.
Nancy Mills Postgraduate Thesis Award – Dr Tony Slater for research that will accelerate the process for breeding new potato cultivars to help protect production from disease.
Samuel Wadham Practice Change Award – DEPI’s BetterBeef Network, led by Darren Hickey, has enabled over 5,000 participants to improve productivity since 2011.
For more information on the awards and winners go to www.depi.vic.gov.au/scienceawards

New hay processor creates jobs for Bridgewater

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
A new specialist hay processing and export facility in Bridgewater will create 15 new jobs and inject $700,000 a year into the local economy, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh announced today.
Visiting Bridgewater with Nationals candidate for Ripon Scott Turner, Mr Walsh said Hay Australia Pty Ltd would expand its operations to Victoria from Western Australia by investing at least $4 million into the new hay processing and export facility.
The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $300,000 in the project, which includes funding infrastructure at the site such as electricity, water and road access.
“The Coalition Government is committed to supporting the growth of agriculture and the growth of regional Victorian communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“This is in stark contrast to the Labor Party, which fails to understand agriculture and is yet to even release its agriculture policy.
“This development will be a significant economic boost for the Bridgewater area. It will create 15 jobs in manufacturing and agriculture, and will inject an additional $700,000 per year in wages and salaries into the local economy.
“Once the processing facility is complete, up to 60,000 tonnes of hay will be exported each year – with an estimated value of up to $20 million per year.”
Mr Turner said the Bridgewater project was being funded through the Coalition Government’s regional investment program Industries for Today and Tomorrow, which was designed to facilitate the development of regionally-based businesses with high growth potential.
“The Coalition Government is committed to promoting growth across regional Victoria by supporting projects such as this, which attract new investment and create new jobs and exports,” Mr Turner said.
“The project is an example of the Napthine Coalition Government working with industry to build a better regional Victoria – attracting new investment, creating jobs and growing exports.”

300000 foxes eradicated under Coalition bounty

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
More than 300,000 foxes have been eradicated under the Victorian Coalition Government’s bounty program, with more than $3 million now paid out to hunters.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the 300,000th fox scalp was submitted to the Warrnambool collection centre last week, less than three years since the bounty was introduced.
“The Coalition Government understands the financial and emotional toll foxes and wild dogs take on Victorian livestock producers and we are committed to helping reduce their numbers,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our fox and wild dog bounty is making a real difference for producers, with 300,000 fewer foxes now roaming Victoria’s landscape. This is compared with the former Labor government’s Fox Stop program, which eradicated just 20,034 foxes in three years.
“The bounty of $10 per fox scalp and $100 per wild dog skin not only aims to compensate hunters for their efforts, but also recognises their important contribution to controlling these vicious and damaging pests. The only good fox is a dead fox.”
Mr Walsh said the 300,000th fox scalp was submitted by Portland hunter Garry Wombwell last Wednesday, who handed in 261 fox scalps at Warrnambool and a total of 512 since the bounty began in October 2011.
Mr Wombwell has been hunting foxes for 30 years and handed in the scalps on behalf of a small group of local shooters. He said the program was a great incentive for local shooters to reduce the fox population and help promote the survival of native wildlife.
“Anything to control the fox is a good thing. You can see how many are around and you have to do everything you can – poison, the bounty and recreational shooting – to help control them,” Mr Wombell said.
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government was committed to an integrated approach to fox and wild dog control which included a combination of baiting, trapping and shooting.
“After years of Labor neglect, the Coalition Government is taking real action to control fox numbers and build stronger farming communities,” Mr Walsh said.
For more information on the fox and wild dog bounty, visit www.depi.vic.gov.au/bounty


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