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    CALL FOR SUPPORT: Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano, right, with VFF chief executive Jane Lovell and Longerenong College students during a visit to the college last week, has called on the State Government to fund programs to fix country roads in its upcoming May budget. The organisation has created a planning framework, which also includes regional infrastructure projects, essential services and government programs. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Call to invest in region’s potential

Victoria’s peak farming body has used regional road maintenance as an example of infrastructure needing State Government support to grow agriculture and fast-track an economic rebound.

Victorian Farmers Federation included roads in a mix of key regional infrastructure projects, essential services and government programs in a planning framework it announced ahead of a May State Budget.

VFF president Emma Germano said ‘crumbling’ regional roads in many areas were bordering on unsafe.

“We’re calling for a minimum of $650-million in the budget over the next four years for regional road-asset maintenance and a further $200-million to reintroduce the Fixing Country Roads Program,” she said.

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Ms Germano said the State Government needed to seize the opportunity to redefine what it meant to work and live in the regions.

“Agriculture has undoubtedly showcased its resilience throughout the pandemic,” she said.

“We are a significant economic contributor, delivering $13-billion to the Victorian economy, providing a quarter of all exports and employing more than 87,000 people. Dollar for dollar, our industry punches well above its weight in terms of economic returns and it’s time we received our fair share.

“The Victorian government needs to recognise the industry’s future potential and invest accordingly. We don’t want to put a cap on our ability to grow.”

Ms Germano said Victoria needed an environment that promoted and protected thriving farm business and allowed them to prosper.

“Programs including the On-farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate Scheme and newly proposed On-farm Fire Suppression Grants will future-proof business and encourage investment,” she said.

“We desperately need a commitment and long-term strategy to propel agriculture and regional Victoria forward.”


The entire April 7, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!