A focus on Victoria being the most livable state, rather than Melbourne being the most livable city will be a focus for the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) in the lead up to the Victorian state election.
The VFF formally launched their election platform at their Grains and Livestock conference held in Ballarat on Tuesday with a focus on four priority areas.
These include improving rail and road infrastructure, making regional Victoria the best place to live and work, protecting farmer's right to farm and supporting regional jobs.
When launching the strategy, VFF president Emma Germano said governments and opposition were put "on notice".
Ms Germano presented remotely during the launch and said there will be a number of targeted electorates where the organisation will focus their efforts promoting a positive agenda.
"We're really focused on this notion of delivering a fair go for regional Victoria as part of the state election campaign," she said.
"We don't want to just draw attention to the challenges that we face out in the regions but also draw attention to the massive opportunities that the regions pose for the whole of Victoria.
"We're going to be on the ground in these marginal electorates pushing this message in regional Victoria that we deserve a fair go."
The VFF undertook analysis on electorates that would be important to both government and the opposition in developing the strategy.
The analysis showed that it was important to undertaking sophisticated campaigning in seats like Bass, Eildon, Nepean, South Barwon and Ripon plus independent-held seats like Shepparton and Mildura.
"We're not waiting until the last minute to ask the candidates questions [and] we're actually going to start asking those questions now, so they have time while they're developing their policy agenda that it will align with ours," she said.
Ms Germano said the strategy will advocate over many issues, but stressed what needed immediate action was a strategic and long term funding for road and rail maintenance.
She called for a minimum of $2 billion over four years specifically dedicated to fixing crumbling regional road networks and $400 million to improve stunted freight rail projects like the Murray Basin rail project.
"The Murray Basin rail project could be a game changer for Victorian agriculture, and not just agriculture and thinking about the benefits for road users
"Delays in completion has costed industry in millions and millions of dollars every year in additional freight costs," she said.
President of the VFF Livestock Group Steven Harrison agreed with that sentiment.
He also said adequate responses from police to stock theft also had to be a major election issue.
"The lack of prosecutions that happen is not good and It only needs four or five dedicated people. throughout Victoria, [and] to facilitate this wouldn't cost a lot of money," he said.
"It's not necessarily the police's fault ... but if someone had their tools stolen here in Ballarat, that'd be attended to in an hour or two but if it was a case 10 kilometres down the road out of town, farmers might see police in the next day or two.
"That has to be changed."
The VFF's strategy will also focus on job creation, prioritising skill development, more housing, improved biosecurity, digital connectivity.
Analysis from the VFF showed 438 mobile blackspots across the state, which Ms Germano said both parties needed to address.
"Telecommunications is so important when facing a natural disaster, but also for a business or for living a modern life in the regions," she said.
Ironically while Ms Germano was speaking about the need for improved connectivity, the digital feed to the conference briefly dropped out.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.