The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie has encouraged central and north-west Victorian agricultural and food processing stakeholders to have their say on the National Food Plan next Tuesday, July 31 in Bendigo.
Australia’s agricultural production is a $155 billion-a-year industry and is worth more than 12 per cent of GDP.
“Victoria’s agricultural sector produces goods valued at approximately $9 billion a year and is Australia’s greatest exporter of food and fibre,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Roughly three per cent of the state’s workforce is employed in the sector and related industries, so the government must understand the importance of promoting agriculture in order to attract the skilled workers needed to meet the world’s growing demand for food.”
Senator McKenzie said it is essential regional Australians weigh in on the Plan and welcome the Labor government’s interest in forming policy on the future of Australian agriculture.
“Recent history shows Australians have been denied a similar opportunity around such matters including New Zealand apple imports, halting the live cattle trade and the first draft of the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“Regional Victorians should use the hearing to discuss the merits of increased investment in research and development and how to mitigate against future food security risks.
“The public consultation process is an opportunity for regional industries to feed local knowledge into the future of Australian agriculture and ensure our future competitive advantage.
“If the government wants to build a strong, resilient and collaborative food industry it is critical industry representatives and stakeholders contribute.”
The public meeting starts at 7pm at the All Seasons Bendigo. It is one of three meetings to be held in regional Victoria, and one of 24 nationally. Written submissions close on September 30, 2012.