A constant question I am asked when travelling around Victoria is "why should I be a member?"
The VFF is here to advocate for members - but what is advocacy I hear you say?
By definition, advocacy seeks to ensure that people, particularly those who may be vulnerable to the decisions of government or industry, for example, are able to have their voice heard on issues that are important to them and to defend and safeguard their rights.
Put simply I like to think of it as farmers fighting for the rights and benefits of farmers and our regional communities.
Last week I attended the 40th anniversary of the National Farmers Federation.
This provided a moment for me to reflect on the power and absolute value of rural advocacy.
The VFF along with its national counterpart has played a crucial role in shaping agriculture into what it is today - sure, there is more work to be done.
However, imagine how agriculture would look and feel if there was not an organisation consisting of engaged and passionate farmers keeping the government to account.
Agriculture would no doubt be in a much different place to what it is today.
The VFF has been instrumental in the current drought package being administered by the state government, calling for a review into the local government rates, protecting free trade agreements and trying to limit the impact of farm activists - all having a bearing on your business.
Moreover, the organisation regularly meets politicians, government agencies and businesses who have a direct impact on your bottom line, farming practices, liveability of your town and general well-being.
The VFF is an organised voice that is protecting Victorian farmers and regional towns across the state.
I understand that there are those who may be critical of what the organisation may or may not do.
But to those farmers, I say, "who will be your voice if there was no VFF?"
There is an absolute value in advocacy, there is work being undertaken every day by the organisation.
Some of this you may read in the paper or social media, and there are other aspects occurring behind the scenes.
There is no doubt that the VFF is pushing the government to deliver better outcomes for the entire agriculture sector.
The take home message for me is that there is an absolute value in advocacy.
Every farmer should be a member because you really can't afford not to be.
Advocacy is essential to the viability and sustainability of your business, and our industry.