Representatives from Wellington Shire Council met with Australia’s new Agriculture Minister at a special meeting held in Sale this week.
Wellington Shire Council Mayor Cr Alan Hall and Chief Executive Officer David Morcom attended the roundtable meeting, hosted by the council at the Port of Sale building and led by Senator Bridget McKenzie and Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.
The meeting was arranged to give representatives from local government, farmer groups and Landcare a chance to brief Senator McKenzie on the issues, challenges and opportunities facing Gippsland’s agricultural sector.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester hosted Senator McKenzie in his electorate less than a week after she was sworn into her new role.
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 also met representatives from the fishing, horticulture, agriculture and timber industries, including a visit to Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield.
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 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.”
Senator McKenzie’s day-long visit to Gippsland also included stops at the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co-Op, Gippsland Jersey, Lightfoot and Sons Wines and the vegetable growing area near the Mitchell River in the Lindenow Valley.