Victorian National Party leader Peter Walsh has promised nearly $10million in funding to growers adopt new technologies and farmers help fight weeds, if the coalition is elected in November.
Speaking at the Victorian Farmers Federation Ballarat conference, Mr Walsh made the announcements on the back of commitments by opposition leader Matthew Guy, on police and food and fibre exports.
Mr Walsh said a future Liberal Nationals government would invest $5.3m to roll out the Growth, Adoption, Production and Profitability (GAPP) program.
“We have some fantastic, farmer-grower led extension group, in this state, but they are always struggling for resources, to do the work they do,” Mr Walsh told the conference.
“We will fully fund the trial we did with the Birchip Cropping Group, the GAPP program, for the next four years.”
Mr Walsh said GAPP would help Victorian farmers access new technologies and practices in order to boost productivity and profitability of food and fibre growers.
“We do have world-class research but the challenge has always been, how do you turn those great research projects, those great outcomes, into meaningful adoption on your particular farms?”
The funding would be available to industry grower groups to deliver co-funded programs that helped their members boost on-farm productivity, through the adoption of new technologies and practices.
Mr Walsh said a coalition government would also support Victorian farmers and land managers in the fight against weeds and pest animals, with a new task force that would properly enforce laws.
“Weeds strangle the productivity of our farmers, costing an estimated $4 billion through yield losses and product contamination across the nation each year,” Mr Walsh said.
“One of the challenges is the department always says they don’t have enough money or resources to deal with issues like this,” Mr Walsh said.
The coalition would provide an additional $6.88 million over four years on a new weeds and pest animal enforcement taskforce, which would be established in Agriculture Victoria.
Mr Walsh said the task force would strengthen compliance with Victorian laws and would support the hard work of landowners who already properly managed weeds and pest animals.
Mr Walsh said supporting farmers and land managers was not a priority for Labor.
“We need to urgently reverse the damage Daniel Andrews has caused by cutting inspection rates and failing to properly enforce weed and pest animal laws.
“There are lots of farmers who do the right thing, spend money and do the grunt work controlling weeds and pests on their properties but all that good work is undone if recalcitrant neighbours flout the laws.
“Weeds and pests like rabbits can severely impact on productivity so it is critical that we do everything we can to support farmers because profitable farm businesses are critical for local economies and jobs throughout regional Victoria.”