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The Coalition Government has begun the search for the next generation of dairy industry leaders.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said $335,000 in funding would be used to identify and train emerging industry leaders.

“Our dairy farmers have weathered enormous challenges and change in recent times. Never before has it been more important to have strong industry advocates to represent the interests of farmers as they grapple with these issues,” Mr Chester said.

“We need to identify and train the next generation of leaders to ensure there are strong voices for advocating for the interests of our farmers into the future.

“There are great dairy industry leaders here in Gippsland and I am sure there are future leaders here, too, who need encouragement and to develop their leadership skills.”

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said sound, visionary leadership was critical to the sustainable growth of all agricultural industries, including dairy.

“This is especially the case with Australia’s dairy industry,” Minister Ruston said. “This is an industry which has been impacted by many substantial changes over the years, some of them quite drastic or wrenching, and keenly felt by both producers and consumers.

“Strong effective leadership can make all the difference in managing change and ensuring sustainable industry growth. By identifying and investing in the leaders of the future we are ensuring Australia’s dairy farmers will have the advocacy skills and know-how to champion their industry’s priorities.

“Given the Australian dairy industry’s long history of championing and leading policy debates, such as pursuing fairer international trade, we anticipate the impact of our investment will reach beyond dairy and benefit Australian agriculture as a whole.”

The Nationals Deputy Leader and Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said those benefits would be especially realised in her home state, Australia’s largest in terms of dairy farms and production.

“Dairy is the largest agricultural industry in Victoria, where the majority of Australia’s dairy farms are located,” Senator McKenzie said.

“It’s essential to invest in the next generation of leaders if Victoria is going to continue to lead the nation in dairy, and if the industry is to continue to contribute to jobs and the economy in our state, particularly our rural and regional communities.

“Victoria’s dairy industry is defined in many respects by dynamic and constant change. Victoria needs effective dairy industry leaders and the Australian Government recognises the importance of developing and improving local leadership skills.”

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