The state election may be over, the campaigning is not over at the Victorian Farmers Federation, with three candidates putting their hand up for the VFF president.
Current president and Gippsland horticulture and livestock farmer Emma Germano has elected to run for another term.
Gippsland dairy farmer Paul Mumford and egg farmer Meg Parkinson have also announced their candidacy.
All candidates spoke at an online forum ahead of the closure of votes, which is 5pm, Tuesday, December 13.
Ms Germano has been the president of the VFF for the past two years. She spoke to her record in the position during the forum and said the organisation was able to halt a decline in membership.
She said the VFF smashed targets regarding engaging with those living in metropolitan areas and the media under her watch, and there was still a mandate to continue advocacy.
"I certainly haven't finished what I've started," she said.
While she said there were some challenges the organisation was facing over staff numbers, she was confident in the future-proofing of the organisation, referencing a recent branch meeting she attended that had farmers of all ages in attendance.
Ms Germano did not say how many staff had left the VFF when the question was put to her during the forum but acknowledged a "number of elements" were causing a lack of staff.
"It's not necessarily about the number of staff but it's about ensuring that there's a good remuneration strategy in place," she said.
"We're now competing with different organisations, [like] corporate businesses that have come in, and we haven't had the opportunity to poach staff as well with higher pays.
"Another issue is that we have a board that interacts with the operations of the organisation, and the organisation is quite unique in that manner.
"Things that in other organisations would be kept at a board level... those issues can't be necessarily kept away from [VFF] staff... and I think that can lead to cultural issues."
She acknowledged that the VFF need to get heavily into recruitment and, if elected, would advocate on addressing unfair rating systems, food security, road infrastructure investment and a lack of accommodation, among other issues.
Mr Mumford is a former president of the United Dairy Farmers of Victoria and has also said the loss of staff and resources have severely impacted the VFF's advocacy.
"Our brand, name and reputation is currently at risk," he said at the forum.
He said there needed to be a voice for farmers that represented members across all commodities.
"I want to re-empower farmers and commodities, so they feel heard and seen by the federation and commodity bodies," he said.
"Working for the VFF should mean we are working for our farmers and giving them the opportunity to collaborate and provide input into the work the federation does."
He said that the VFF was not acting for farmers and that their body's policy team was under-resourced.
"There is unnecessary pressure contributing to an already fragmented federation,"
He also called on the VFF board to be open and transparent over their financial situation and said alternative funding models need to be explored outside of membership funding.
He also said while the VFF's Collins Street headquarters Farrer House wouldn't be sold if elected president, "we need to leverage the assets that we do own".
Mr Mumford said the CEO's role needed to be empowered to make decisions that fit in with a strategic plan of the federation.
"The president of the federation is the conduit between the CEO and the board.
"There's a lot of dialogue between those two, and a lot of trust has to be had... so that relationship has to be strong.
He also said while younger farmers were currently working "jolly hard to make a life of their own", there was a challenge for the VFF to engage them in advocacy and called on the development of app based system as a possible solution.
Mr Mumford said if elected as president, he would stick to the election policy pillars recently announced by the VFF during the Victorian state election but would want the taxes collected from regional Victoria to be spent back into the regions fairly.
Ms Parkinson is a VFF life member and has been involved in many aspects of the VFF, including deputy president on the VFF board and chair of Farrer House.
She said a change in her working circumstances on the farm would give her more time to dedicate herself to the VFF and prompted her to campaign for president.
She said the VFF "did not do governance well" and referred to a recent Supreme Court ruling over the decision to expel a dairy farmer member was ruled invalid as an example of where the VFF could do better.
She said she understood "more than 20 staff" had left the VFF.
"This suggests that the VFF is no longer a happy, productive workplace," she said.
She also believed there was a lack of trust in the VFF and that "commodities felt they were disappearing".
Along with Mr Mumford, she was vocal about the lack of information about the VFF's financial situation and criticised Ms Germano for holding back data.
Ms Parkinson said if elected, animal welfare would be "at the top of her list", and there was a need to be a big voice for consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Care and Protection Act.
She said the notion that the agriculture sector was a vandal regarding sustainability is "ridiculous", and the VFF "championed Landcare for generations".
She also advocated for a community publication distributed by VFF and funded by advertising to improve communication about what the advocacy body is trying to achieve.