The Andrews Government must reverse its unexpected decision to close the Victorian Pig Services Centre (VPSC) – the industry’s frontline defence against devastating disease outbreaks.
The Victorian Government blindsided our pork producers with the sudden closure of the Bendigo Centre on March 27 – without consultation with producers, the Victorian Farmers Federation or the national peak body Australian Pork Limited.
The Centre is the hub of diagnostic services and vaccine production for Victoria’s 500 commercial pork producers.
According to the VFF, unless the decision to close the VPSC is reversed, Victoria’s ability to fight fatal disease outbreaks, including the current risk of African Swine Fever, will be dealt a devastating blow.
Closure of the VPSC follows uncertainty on the future of 49 research and development scientist jobs at AgVic, including eight research and technical staff and groundwater and salinity staff at Bendigo.
Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
The Andrews Government must immediately reverse its decision to close the Victorian Pig Services Centre.
It sends the wrong message to industry, despite the State Government recently claiming it considered the food supply chain an essential service as we combat the spread of COVID-19.
Pork producers are rightly worried that cutting the jobs of agriculture scientists will leave the industry exposed to disease outbreaks that could decimate the industry.
The Treasurer had promised $4 billion in cuts and they’re hitting agriculture hard at a time when there’s increased demand on our farmers to keep our supermarket shelves fully stocked.
Our farmers must have the confidence that the resources and workforce is in place to prevent disease outbreaks.
We need more investment, not less, into ensuring our farmers are protected against disease outbreaks and continue to be world leaders in agriculture.
Industry was notified of the decision to close the VPSC on March 29 – two days after the laboratory was closed.
Staff will stay on to complete existing vaccine orders, despite the Government telling industry the Centre is closing to protect the wellbeing of workers due to COVID-19.
The Victorian pork industry has contributed $250,000 every year to VPSC since 2014 through the Swine Compensation Fund.
Producers pay $0.16 per pig to the Fund to support services that benefit the whole industry, including research and development of vaccines and diagnostics.
Victoria’s 500 commercial pig producers contribute nearly $500 million to Victoria’s economy.