Nearly 300 people gathered in Melbourne to enjoy a feast of local food, wine and beer, for the AgriCulture, Heart of Victoria dinner, run by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) and the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV).
RASV president Matthew Coleman said the evening recognised and celebrated Victorian agriculture by showcasing food and fibre, and celebrated the producers that were responsible for “our outstanding agricultural industries”.
Mr Coleman said an important aspect of the event was facilitating connections between those in the audience and within the agricultural industry.
“This year we will be launching a new program to promote and celebrate innovation in agriculture,” Mr Coleman said.
“The aim is to inspire the sharing of agtech innovation and ideas that continue to make a positive contribution to agricultural industries in Victoria.
“[We’re] also proud to showcase industry leaders through the 2018 Emerging Leaders of Victorian Agriculture Awards.”
VFF president David Jochinke said the event was the industry’s “Brownlow”.
“Unfortunately we are not on prime time television,” Mr Jochinke said.
“We don’t have the opportunity to reach our consumers to let them know the passion and dedication and celebrate not only the food that we consume but the industry that produces it.”
Mr Jochinke said to tell the story of the producers; but more so, be a proud Victorian, be a proud producer.
The event also celebrated industry leaders including the 2018 RASV Emerging Leaders of Victorian Agriculture Awards.
RASV CEO Paul Guerra said the awards, now in their sixth year, were part of the RASV’s commitment to encourage and celebrate the next generation of industry leaders.
Mr Guerra said the awards were designed to motivate, inspire and encourage individuals who demonstrated leadership qualities and made a contribution in their profession or to the wider industry.
The award winners this year were Amelia Bright and Dr Jo Newton.
Mr Guerra said Ms Bright had demonstrated leadership qualities in the past five years after arriving in South Gippsland.
Together with her husband Dan and daughter, she owned and operated Amber Creek Farm and Sawmill at Fish Creek.
The business grows high quality, “ethically produced, pasture raised” pork.
She was also behind the Prom Coast Food Collective started in 2016 and now with 18 producers.
She is passionate about “regional vitality, small farm viability and bringing the best of local produce to local families”, Mr Guerra said.
The second award recipient, Dr Jo Newton, balanced her work as a research scientist with Agriculture Victoria with advocacy for youth in agriculture.
Her contribution to the Improving Herds project had played a significant role in increasing the dairy industry’s adoption of genetics and technologies.
She also spends a large proportion of her spare time speaking at schools and events, mentoring students and junior scientists.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said the Government’s ag policy was to “get things done”.
Ms Pulford said the recent release of the agriculture planning reforms would benefit where the old system was not keeping up with the changes in farming practices.
She said she was determined to make Victoria the agtech hub of Australia.