The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) President Emma Germano has slammed the Victorian Government's budget handed down on Tuesday, saying the state government has ignored much of the agriculture sector.
VFF president Emma Germano said the fact that Treasurer Tim Pallas did not mention agriculture as one of Victoria's key export industries in his speech showed a lack of vision as the state aims to repair an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Agriculture plays a vital role in keeping Victoria's economy moving and the investment in the services and infrastructure we need and deserve is totally underwhelming," Ms Germano said.
"Farmers have helped to keep Victoria alive through the pandemic and now that we are approaching the other side, we can't be treated as an afterthought."
Ms Germano said there was also a lack of any significant investment into the road network in regional Victoria.
"This is yet another budget that fails to address the chronic underfunding of Victoria's regional road network," she said.
"Western Victoria has particularly missed out on funding for upgrades to critical freight routes so farmers can get food and fibre to market."
"Farmers will be expecting substantial investment in our sector and in our communities in the leadup to November's State election. We will be demanding a fair go for all regional Victoria."
The state government said the budget will give another $101 million for intersection upgrades, new overtaking lanes and roundabouts on key regional roads and highways.
It will also spend $780m on road maintenance works, across metro and regional areas, but Ms Germano said this was a drop in the ocean
The VFF president, however, did welcome some funding for Victorian agriculture, including a $12 million investment towards a research glasshouse complex and incubation hub at the Horsham Grains Innovation Precinct and $1.9 million going to community pest and weed management and joint emergency exercises for biosecurity incursions.
A $1.4 million investment going to support farm businesses and communities to undertake drought specific climate change adaptation activities was also welcomed by the VFF.
"We are pleased the government listened to our calls on the importance of securing our supply chains with an additional $30 million for the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund and $40 million for the Victorian Industry Investment Fund," Ms Germano said.
Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas also has had to defend the government's decision to cut jobs from Agriculture Victoria, saying they were part of "good management" and were essential to save money while not diminishing the department's service.
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