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Australia’s new Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie will visit Gippsland today just five days after being sworn into her new role.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is hosting Senator McKenzie in his electorate to learn more about the region’s agricultural sector.

Mr Chester said the visit was an important opportunity for Senator McKenzie to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing local producers.

“The Agriculture Minister’s visit to Gippsland so soon after her appointment highlights the national importance of our region,” Mr Chester said.

“The agriculture sector is the backbone of our rural communities. When agriculture is strong, our towns and businesses flourish.”

As part of her visit to Gippsland, Senator McKenzie will meet representatives from the fishing, horticulture, agriculture and timber industries, as well as local councils and farmer organisations.

Mr Chester said the Federal Government had a national strategy to grow the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors to be worth a total of $100 billion by 2030.

“Agriculture, fisheries and forestry remains a critical element of Gippsland’s economy, particularly in thousands of jobs they support, both directly and indirectly, and through on-going investment in our region,” Mr Chester said.

“The Federal Government has pursued new and improved trade and market access for the benefit of our agricultural producers and exporters.

“It’s clear we urgently need to do more to help in the short-term due to drought. We also need to look to what we can do now for the future when our farmers are back on their feet so these sectors can grow and strengthen.”

The visit to Gippsland includes stops at the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co-Op, Gippsland Jersey and the vegetable growing area near the Mitchell River in the Lindenow Valley.

In April, Mr Chester secured $10 million in Federal Government funding to help Mitchell River irrigators to undertake on-farm water storage projects to better withstand the impact of drought.

The Mitchell River catchment is home to seven of Australia’s top 10 salad producers and supplies major supermarkets across eastern Australia. It is a key employer and contributor to the local economy.

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