Local farmers will have direct and ongoing input into shaping the programs and developing East Gippsland agriculture.
East Gippsland Shire Council endorsed establishing an East Gippsland Agriculture Advisory Committee at its meeting this week, a move Mayor Cr John White said is timely.
“Once established, the advisory committee will replace the current East Gippsland Drought Reference Group,” Cr White said.
“The work of the drought reference group has been significant. The group has provided valuable advice and insights into how Council could most effectively support the community during and after the prolonged drought. It has also helped drive advocacy to the Victorian and Australian governments in respect of funding and longer-term actions to help ensure the sustainability of the agriculture sector.
“Outcomes include funding support direct to Council, passed on in full to farming enterprises, support for the Gippsland Agriculture Group trail site and Bengworden, a drought workforce program, and supporting local groups and organisations to deliver financial and personal assistance to drought-affected people.”
Cr White said the time was right to build on the work of the drought reference group by transitioning the role of that group into a new advisory committee.
“The new committee will have a broad focus on matters of significance to the agriculture sector,” he said.
“East Gippsland has some well-established industry events, and significant knowledge across various agriculture and horticulture sectors. There is a willingness to ensure the prosperity and sustainability of agriculture in our region,” Cr White said.
It is proposed the committee will comprise a maximum of 15 members, of which 10 will be representatives of families, businesses, companies, and single practitioners actively engaged in agriculture.
“The involvement of these industry representatives will drive the success of this committee and in turn a strong and resilient agriculture sector now and into the future,” Cr White said.
A representative from each of Agriculture Victoria, East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and Food & Fibre Gippsland will be invited to join the committee. East Gippsland Shire Council will be represented by two councillors (one being the Mayor).
Cr White said the creation of the new advisory committee is consistent with Council’s practice of having range of advisory and consultative bodies in place to successfully support Council’s efforts in other areas of its operations.
The agriculture sector is responsible for 9.7 per cent of the region’s jobs. Total annual economic output is estimated at $4.686 billion, with agriculture, forestry and fishing contributing $572.994 million (12.2 per cent). A further $740.997 million (15.8 per cent) is contributed by manufacturing.