LAST week’s annual general meeting (AGM) held by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) was an opportunity for members to hear from the organisation about how it managed the financial impacts resulting from the events of 2020 and the plans in place to rebound into the future, VFF president Emma Germano said.

The online meeting was virtually attended by members from across Victoria on Tuesday, February 23.

“Last year was one of the most challenging years we’ve experienced throughout our 41-year history,” Ms Germano said.

“Despite the challenges we encountered, the VFF maintained its position as the respected voice of Victorian farmers, playing a key role throughout the COVID crisis.

“When times are tough, we truly do have each other’s backs and look after each other.”

The VFF was not immune from the financial impacts of COVID-19 but responded proportionately and was supported by the JobKeeper program.

“Our operations for the year ending 30 September 2020 resulted in a deficit of $445k. This is similar to last year’s deficit of $448k, and in line with the budgeted deficit for FY20 of $447k,” Ms Germano said.

“We faced headwinds with the cancellation of the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, of which the VFF is a part owner, resulting in impacted costs and lost margins.

“Rent relief provided to Farrer House tenants who were also severely impacted in their activities during the year contributed to a shortfall in building income of $372k from the budget for the year.

“Importantly, the organisation was able to mostly offset these impacts by qualifying for the first tranche of the JobKeeper program, which enabled us to retain all staff during this time.”

VFF net assets at September 30, 2020, of $37.1m provided a very solid foundation for the organisation moving forward, Ms Germano said.

“With a new leadership team now in place, we are committed to delivering on a fresh set of ambitions for the organisation and expanding our membership base.”