VICTORIAN producers will be supported to work together to market their produce, grow our local industries and boost exports thanks to the State Government’s new $20 million Food Source Victoria program.
Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, officially unveiled Food Source Victoria on Thursday night last week at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and Victorian Farmers Federation’s Heart of Victoria dinner.
A key election commitment, Food Source Victoria will allocate $18 million in grants to support agri-food businesses across regional Victoria to conduct research, develop marketing plans, produce innovative products and build skills to better compete in export markets.
By working together, Ms Pulford said the program will adopt a “paddock to plate” approach, capitalising on new opportunities and growing global demand for Victorian produce, supporting our farmers and growers to lead the world.
“By helping producers, processors and exporters work together to find new opportunities and reach new heights, we will grow our $11.4 billion food and fibre industry.
“Agri-businesses who work together will be able to boost exports and build capacity – and that means jobs for our regional and rural communities.”
Grants will be available to support alliances of agri-food businesses in regional Victoria and value chain partnerships.
Successful applicants will be eligible for up to $5000 grants for planning and up to $250,000 for projects.
In addition, Food Source Victoria’s scholarships program will provide $2 million to better equip regional Victorians to develop the skills and knowledge they need to develop in-demand products and grow our economy.
The scholarships will target innovative Victorians who live in regional Victoria and work in agri-business, allowing them to expand into new markets or launch a new product, which will boost exports and create jobs.
“Our grants and scholarships will help ambitious Victorians build their skills, uncovering the next generation of farmers and innovators,” Ms Pulford said.
At least $1 million will be allocated to support women across regional Victoria to develop their skills and continue contributing to Victoria’s food and fibre sector.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has welcomed the Government’s commitment to invest in Victoria’s regional supply chains and producers.
“Victorian agriculture, in particular horticulture, look set to win big and it is pleasing to see the Government backing our producers,” VFF president Peter Tuohey said.
“Victorian horticulture, with the right support from both industry and government has the potential to triple in size by 2030 and become one of the biggest exports out of the state.”
Food Source Victoria is funded through the Labor Government’s $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, with applications open from July 1, 2015. For more information visit www.vic.gov.au/foodsource