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Warracknabeal Post Office

Media Releases

Food and fibre opportunities with Australia Korea FTA

Thursday, December 05, 2013
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on the Australia-Korea Free Trade Agreement, and the opportunities this presents for Victorian food and fibre exporters.
“Victoria has a strong and growing relationship with the Republic of Korea and this agreement paves the way for deeper engagement with one of our most important trading partners in the region,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Republic of Korea is already Victoria’s tenth largest food and fibre export market, receiving produce valued at $263 million in 2012-13. This included $68 million of dairy, $41 million of beef and $46 million of grain.
“Victoria’s significant exports were despite fierce competition from other exporting countries that have already secured lucrative trade agreements, such as the United States and the European Union.”
It is expected Australia’s agricultural exports to the Republic of Korea will be 73 per cent higher after 15 years as a result of the FTA, Mr Walsh said.
“With tariffs of up to 180 per cent to be eliminated on exports including dairy, beef, wheat, wine and horticulture, this agreement will place Victorian food and fibre producers on a more equal footing and will help lift exports to Korea,” Mr Walsh said.
“Growth in Victorian food and fibre exports in turn delivers flow-on benefits to regional Victoria where the majority of food and fibre jobs are located.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government had led three trade missions to the Republic of Korea since 2010 and would continue to work closely with food and fibre producers and exporters to capitalise on the new preferential trade arrangements.
“Victoria’s ongoing trade mission program takes growers, packers and exporters to new market opportunities, and also brings key importers to Victoria to meet with suppliers and broker new deals,” Mr Walsh said.
“Importers and retailers from the Republic of Korea will be attending the Victorian Food and Beverage Trade Week in March, and the Victoria Government will be coordinating a stand at the Seoul Food trade show in Seoul next May where Victorian produce will be showcased.”

Letter to the Editor - Dairy Australia Victorian Govt partnership

Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Dear Editor,
Earlier this week I was very pleased to announce an historic new partnership between the Victorian Coalition Government and Dairy Australia aimed at boosting the productivity of the dairy sector.
The $40 million research and development partnership will see DEPI and Dairy Australia each contributing $4 million a year for five years, to fund additional research targeted at increasing the productivity and international competitiveness of the state’s dairy industry.
In 30 years, Victoria’s dairy industry doubled its production levels while using the same amount of cows and less grazing land. This research will take that even further.
Six additional world-class scientists will be employed to undertake the work at DEPI in Ellinbank, including finding new ways to improve feeding systems, lifting reproductive performance in our herds and increasing soil productivity.
For example, our researchers will develop new and improved feeding systems to maximise this potential and enable industry to increase production without always needing to increase herd sizes.
The Coalition Government has a strong focus on helping the state’s farmers to increase their productivity and profitability, and this major research partnership will help to achieve the goal of doubling the state’s food and fibre production by 2030.
We are funding this additional dairy research as part of the Growing Food and Fibre initiative, which is providing

Taking the fight to wild dogs

Tuesday, December 03, 2013
A new Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan with set operational targets and local area work plans was released today by the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh.
Mr Walsh launched the plan with Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull at a community wild dog forum in Omeo today.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to helping landholders control these vicious, destructive pests because we understand the heartache and the economic loss that they cause,” Mr Walsh said.
“The plan will increase the effectiveness of our trapping program and increase the number of baits laid by 10 per cent to almost 20,000 in the coming year.”
Local area plans
“Local area work plans will be developed using local knowledge for each of the 15 wild dog management zones in East Gippsland and northeast Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“Each plan will have specified operational targets for both private and public land, for activities and measures like extending baiting, increasing effectiveness of trapping and decreasing the number of dog attacks.”
The action plan also includes commitments to improve access to fresh 1080 bait products in areas affected by wild dogs and examine ways of removing legislative and red tape frustrating the management of wild dogs.
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan recognised that all land managers have responsibilities for wild dog control.
“The plan encourages everyone to work together using all available tools including baiting, trapping, shooting, exclusion fencing and good animal husbandry,” Mr Walsh said.
“Reporting wild dog attacks and participating in coordinated community wild dog programs will also help DEPI to coordinate control efforts more effectively.”
Mr Walsh said the action plan was the latest step taken by the Coalition Government to help improve wild dog control.
Since 2011 the Coalition Government has:
· reintroduced Lanes traps;
· introduced a bounty on wild dogs and doubled it to $100, with more than 1,000 wild dogs killed;
· expanded community baiting programs, including working with private landowners to bait on public land;
· established the Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee to provide government with strategic advice;
· maintained the 72 hour check rule for traps;
· cut red tape so wild dog controllers can work outside the 3 km buffer zone; and
· increased the strength of baits used and baited deeper than ever before into remote Crown land areas.
“We have also moved to a flexible resource model of full time staff, contractors and casuals because we understand that wild dogs don’t work between the hours of nine to five,” Mr Walsh said.
“This approach has the full support of the Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee as the most flexible and effective approach to ensure seasonal demands for control efforts are met.”
Native vegetation
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government was working on regulatory issues around native vegetation clearance, so that boundary electric fencing could be more effective.
“Electric fences brought down or shorted by trees and branches are frustrating the efforts of landholders to keep wild dogs off their properties,” Mr Walsh said.
"The previous Labor Government put in place native vegetation regulations that prevent landholders from clearing vegetation to protect these fences.
“Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith will be reviewing exemptions for clearing native vegetation on public land next year.
“In the meantime, we have put in place a streamlined process to expedite applications for clearing native vegetation on the public land boundary for the construction and maintenance of fences to control wild dogs.
“Documents to help landholders understand this protocol, including application forms, will be made available on DEPI’s website in the next week.”
Aerial baiting
“The Coalition Government will also submit a new application for aerial baiting to the Commonwealth this month,” Mr Walsh said.
“Aerial baiting has the potential to play a valuable role in an integrated approach to wild dog control and we hope this second application will grant the necessary approvals under Federal legislation.”
Download the Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan at www.depi.vic.gov.au/wilddogs

40 million dollar boost to accelerate dairy productivity

Tuesday, December 03, 2013
· New $40 million research partnership between Victoria and Dairy Australia
· Productivity-focused, as Victoria aims to double food and fibre output by 2030
· Victorian Coalition has boosted food and fibre research by an additional $125m
A $40 million research and development partnership between the Victorian Coalition Government and Dairy Australia is set to further enhance Victoria’s status as the powerhouse of Australia’s dairy industry.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the agreement with Dairy Australia would fund a range of research and development projects designed to accelerate productivity growth in the state’s dairy sector.
Mr Walsh made the announcement today during a visit to the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ Centre for Dairy Excellence at Ellinbank in Gippsland.
“Under this historic five-year partnership, DEPI and Dairy Australia will each contribute $4 million a year over the next five years for targeted research to increase the industry’s productivity and make it more internationally competitive,” Mr Walsh said.
“This includes the creation of six new dairy research jobs at DEPI in Ellinbank, bringing more world-class scientists to the Gippsland region.
“The Victorian Coalition is targeting research into food and fibre sectors where the industry is prepared to partner in the funding or delivery of that work, to achieve the best outcome.
“This agreement will help our Victorian scientists find new ways to improve the industry’s feeding systems, lift reproductive performance in our herds and increase soil productivity.
“Our researchers will develop new and improved feeding systems to maximise this potential and enable industry to increase production without always needing to increase herd sizes.
“We also know that declining cow fertility is a significant issue in dairying, and getting cows back in calf quickly is important to maximise milk production.
“Our world-renowned dairy scientists at DEPI will focus on understanding and addressing the decline in cow fertility and increasing the amount of milk cows produce.”
Dairy Australia Chair Geoff Akers said the $20 million contributed by Dairy Australia would seek to improve the profitability and resilience of Australian dairy farmers and ensure Australia’s international competitiveness based on optimised pasture management.
“This will include a focus on maximising home-grown feed coupled with the efficient use of purchased feed inputs,” Mr Akers said.
The Victorian Government’s share of the funding will be provided as part of its Growing Food and Fibre initiative, which is providing an additional $125 million for research and development to boost on-farm productivity.

Letter to the Editor - Murray Cod

Monday, December 02, 2013
Dear Editor,
The Murray cod fishing season opened on Sunday 1 December – a much anticipated date for many keen anglers.
Murray cod are an important recreational species and the Victorian Coalition Government recognises the significant social and economic value that fishing for this species brings to many communities throughout regional Victoria.
Extensive fish stocking and habitat improvement works funded by the Victorian Government mean this season, and those in years to come, should provide some great opportunities to land the iconic fish.
More than 560,000 juvenile Murray cod will be stocked into rivers, lakes and impoundments by Fisheries Victoria over the coming months. It is expected that most of these stocked fish will be of catchable size within four to five years.
This follows the release of more than one million Murray cod throughout Victoria during 2013.
Through the $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative the Coalition Government is not only stocking fish, but also improving access and facilities, upgrading boat launching facilities, building new fishing reefs, undertaking more fisheries research and strengthening enforcement and education.
The Coalition Government is committed to improving recreational fishing opportunities for the state’s 721,000 anglers, and maintaining Victoria’s reputation as a top fishing destination.
Twelve new specially trained Fisheries officers have also recently been deployed, patrolling Victorian waters to protect our state’s fisheries for future generations.
These new Fisheries officers will work to ensure regulations such as bag and size limits are adhered to, while educating the community and promoting fishing opportunities in Victoria.
I would like to remind fishers heading out during the Murray cod season that there is a bag/possession limit of two Murray cod with a minimum size of 60 centimetres and maximum 100cm.

Boat ramp upgrades in time for Murray cod season

Sunday, December 01, 2013
· Better boataccess with new ramps at Gunbower Creek and Loddon River
· Funded by Victorian Coalition’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative
· More Murray cod to be stocked in Victoria’s lakes and rivers
The Victorian Coalition Government has upgraded three boat ramps in northern Victoria to improve angler access in time for today’s opening of the Murray cod season.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh was today joined by Member for Rodney Paul Weller to officially open the upgraded Spences Bridge boat ramp on the Gunbower Creek.
Boat ramps on the Gunbower Creek at Koondrook and on the Loddon River at Serpentine have also been upgraded.
“The Gunbower Creek and Loddon River are popular fishing destinations and the Murray cod season attracts anglers from across Victoria looking to land a catch,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said the boat ramp upgrades were the latest projects funded by the Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing Initiative.
“The Coalition’s Recreational Fishing Initiative has delivered more 60 local infrastructure projects like floating jetties, upgraded boat ramps, fishing platforms, stiles and fish cleaning tables,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Recreational Fishing Initiative also contributes to fish production work at Fisheries Victoria's Snobs Creek hatchery, fish stocking, improved fish passage in rivers, extra patrols by Fisheries Officers and the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre's education programs”
Mr Weller said Murray cod was an iconic recreational species, and the Coalition Government’s fish production and stocking programs were helping ensure the big fish was around for years to come.
“Fisheries Victoria will stock more than 560,000 juvenile Murray cod into rivers, lakes and impoundments over the coming months as part of its annual fish stocking program, including 80,000 into Gunbower Creek,” Mr Weller said.
“There will also be stockings at Lake Nagambie, the lower Goulburn River, Lake Eppalock, Lake Nillahcootie, Cairn Curran and Lake Eildon.
“The Coalition Government recognised that recreational fishing delivers significant social and economic value to local communities throughout Victoria, including here in Cohuna.”
Bag and size limits apply to many popular recreational species including Murray cod. Anyone who sees or suspects illegal fishing can contact the 24-hour offence reporting line 13FISH (133 474).
For more information go to http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/fisheries, download the free Victorian Recreational Fishing App or pick up the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide from any DEPI office or recreational fishing licence outlet.

Boosting ewe reproduction rates with canola

Friday, November 29, 2013
· Research tests canola as potential summer forage crop in high rainfall areas
· Aims to increase sheep production levels and farmer profits
· Supports the goal of doubling Victorian food and fibre production by 2030
Victorian Coalition Government scientists are researching the potential for spring sown forage canola crops to increase ewe conception and reproduction rates, with an aim of boosting the productivity of the state’s sheep farmers.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said researchers from the Victorian Red Meat Innovation Centre at Hamilton were testing whether canola had potential as a summer forage crop in high rainfall areas.
The work is part of a national project which aims to integrate dual-purpose cereal and brassica crops with a pasture feedbase to increase meat production levels.
“This research has the potential to significantly increase the productivity and profitability of Victorian farmers in high rainfall areas by simply changing the pre-joining forage provided,” Mr Walsh said.
“Past research shows that pre-joining nutrition has a significant effect on conception rates. The use of forages with optimum energy and protein over summer and autumn can result in pregnancy scanning rates of 89-149 foetuses scanned per 100 ewes – compared to industry average figures of around 60 per cent.
“Increasing pregnancy scanning rates is a key driver for on-farm profitability, with profit increases of up to $12 per hectare occurring for every 10 per cent improvement in pregnancy scanning rates above 70 per cent. So the economic benefits to the industry are significant.”
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) scientist Maggie Raeside said the project would evaluate the effect of spring sown dual-purpose canola on the joining rates of seven to eight month old maternal composite ewes.
“Dual purpose canola varieties can be sown in spring in high rainfall environments to produce a high quality forage crop suitable for grazing during the first summer and autumn,” Dr Raeside said.
“As part of our research the first canola crops were sown in spring this year with the plan for ewes to be joined during autumn 2014. We will then compare conception and reproduction rates from the dual purpose canola against other forages, including forage rape, lucerne, chicory and plantain, with the experiment repeated for a second year from a spring 2014 sowing.”
Mr Walsh said the research was another example of the Coalition Government delivering research and development initiatives to help the industry to double production levels by 2030.
The research is being funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and in collaboration with CSIRO and Charles Sturt University.

New Fisheries Officers on patrol in time for summer

Friday, November 22, 2013
Fisheries Victoria has strengthened its force of officers patrolling Victorian waters with the addition of 12 new specially trained staff posted across the state.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said Fisheries Officers provided the frontline defense to protect Victoria’s fisheries for future generations.
“Fisheries Victoria officers are out in force across the state conducting inspections on the water and along our shorelines to ensure fishers are doing the right thing,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to providing fair and sustainable recreational and commercial fishing opportunities in our state.
“These new Fisheries Officers will work to ensure regulations such as bag and size limits are adhered to, while educating the community and promoting fishing opportunities in Victoria.”
The new staff graduated from Fisheries Victoria’s intensive seven-week course today and will join patrol teams on Monday to begin on-the-job training. Eight fisheries officers (including one senior officer) will be based in Apollo Bay, Portland, Tatura, Mallacoota and Geelong. A further three senior investigators and one intelligence officer will be based in Melbourne.
Mr Walsh said the new Fisheries Officers would join teams patrolling areas popular with snapper anglers over the remainder of the season as well as other fishing hot-spots.
Mr Walsh said the Fisheries Officers went through a rigorous selection and training process.
“Fisheries Victoria Officers are on the front line. They have extensive powers of arrest, search and seizure and we need to ensure we have the right people to exercise those powers and to deal with difficult and potentially stressful situations,” Mr Walsh said.
The Fisheries Officers’ graduation follows the conclusion of Operation Gillie, a compliance operation targeting recreational snapper anglers that ran from 5 October to 12 November.
Mr Walsh said as part of Operation Gillie, Fisheries Officers conducted a total of 4,330 inspections and issued 126 warnings and 77 infringement notices.
“An additional seven briefs of evidence were prepared and a number of offenders will be charged on summons and their matters heard before the courts,” Mr Walsh said.
“Two recreational fishing boats were also seized along with a range of fishing equipment as a result of anglers exceeding the bag limit and, in some cases, concealing their excess catch.
“Most anglers do the right thing, but operations like Operation Gillie serve to protect our fisheries from the small minority who do not.”

Conducting medical tests on soil to boost crops

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Victorian Government scientists are using technology adapted from medical research to improve their understanding of how much fertiliser is required to achieve optimum crop and pasture productivity.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the researchers had successfully adapted a medical technique called metabolomics to better understand soil processes that affect phosphorous availability.
“Metabolomics involves analysing chemical processes in the body and is used to identify marker compounds in blood to diagnose illness and determine what action can be taken,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our scientists at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are now using metabolomics to analyse soil and the factors affecting the amount of phosphorous available to crops and pastures.
“In the future we hope this will enable farmers to target management practices to particular soil types and conditions so they can access organic phosphorous, improve productivity and help protect the environment at the same time.
“Fertiliser is a significant expense for farmers and with this research we will develop tools to assess whether or not individual farms will benefit from more or less fertiliser.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is strongly focused on helping farmers to increase their productivity and profitability. This research has the potential to lead to significant savings on fertiliser in some cases, while helping to maximise pasture and cropping productivity.”
DEPI Senior Scientist Dr David Nash said the adaption of metabolomics to soil analysis involved focussing on the water surrounding soil particles from which pasture plants extract the nutrients they need to grow.
“In the same way as when you go the doctor for blood tests, the chemicals in the soil water can help us identify problems and the best ways to boost production,” Dr Nash said.
“We began refining medical research techniques some time ago and now they are starting to show some promise.
“Phosphorous is an essential nutrient for plants, but most Australian soils are old and, in their native state, don’t have enough phosphorus or nitrogen to support modern agriculture, so phosphorus fertilisers and nitrogen fixing legumes helps rectify these deficiencies.”

Grains partnership to drive future export success

Thursday, November 21, 2013
The Victorian Coalition Government and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) have joined forces to help the grains industry take advantage of unprecedented demand from Asian and Middle Eastern markets.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and AEGIC would develop market intelligence and other key information to help the industry connect to crucial markets around the world and boost exports.
“Under this agreement DEPI and AEGIC will provide the industry with information such as quality requirements of specific markets, crop yield and quality estimates, the emergence of new markets and niche opportunities,” Mr Walsh said.
“Providing this market intelligence to industry will work in combination with our market development activity and targeted research and development program to increase on-farm productivity and enhance our growers’ international competitiveness.
“This will place Victoria in prime position to take advantage of rapidly growing international demand and will lead to more Victorian grain being exported around the world.”
Mr Walsh said largely as a result of a dramatic rise in shipments to Asia and the Middle East in recent years, grain was now Victoria’s most valuable agricultural export commodity, with an 18 per cent increase to $2.19 billion in 2012-13.
“This unprecedented demand for grain presents significant opportunities for the industry and it’s vital we provide our grains producers with the best possible information and assistance to make the most of that potential,” Mr Walsh said.
AEGIC was established as a research, development and market intelligence organisation by the Western Australian Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation to build national research capacity in areas vital to the export grains sector’s success.
AEGIC Managing Director Richard Price said AEGIC’s capability as a national centre of research excellence would complement DEPI’s trade and investment activities.
“The two agencies will work closely together on projects of mutual interest with the ultimate goal to return increased value to producers,” Mr Price said.
“The opportunity extends AEGIC’s national footprint and in particular bolsters the team’s knowledge in relation to pulses and Middle Eastern markets by drawing on DEPI’s comprehensive knowledge in these areas.”


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