Over the past few weeks I have been on the road meeting with MPs and hopeful candidates in rural and regional Victoria.
While our farmers are currently facing mixed fortunes and varied seasonal conditions, nothing beats getting out of the city and driving in rural Victoria to understand the big picture.
While driving, I contemplated the shame that many current party leaders appear not to have ventured beyond the tramlines – other than a few brief appearances at larger regional centres like Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong.
One recent election announcement noted money was being committed to make Melbourne streets less scary.
Fine, but can you imagine how scary it is for a farmer who pulls out of their gate and almost loses themselves and their vehicle in a potholed road unfit to carry them and a truck at the same time?
Can you imagine how scary it is to have an accident, but no mobile coverage to call for help?
Can you imagine how scary it is when the power goes out and your prime perishable produce is lost due inconsistent cold storage temperatures?
Can you imagine how scary it is opening your annual rates bill to learn it has increased by 40 per cent?
Victorian agriculture’s annual production is worth more than $13 billion.
Victorian agriculture employs more than 87,000 people, largely in rural and regional areas.
Surely it’s time for political leaders to reveal their vision for this crucial sector and stop taking it for granted.
Nine weeks out from the state election we need a vision for our farmers – we need someone to show they value farmers and their rural and regional communities. Is anyone up for the job?