A prosperous and vibrant agriculture and food sector is essential to the future of Indi, encompassing production, processing, distribution and consumption. Agriculture and food production is central to the past, present and future of Indi. We produce some of the best food and fibre in the world, providing exports and boosting our tourism sector. Indi also captures nearly half the water that flows into the Murray-Darling Basin, which in turn supports agriculture and food production elsewhere in Australia.
Our farmers are amongst the most efficient, innovative and least subsidised in the world. However they face many challenges. Droughts and floods will continue and these will be further impacted by climate change. Tackling trade barriers and managing increasingly volatile international markets will be essential for an industry that exports 60% of its production. Trade agreements assist agriculture and the food manufacturing sector become more internationally competitive. Research and innovation are important drivers of industry productivity growth and increased profitability and need to have the full support and financial backing of government. Efficient and reliable connectivity and infrastructure is critical for future success, as more farmers use the internet and high-tech products and services.
The many smaller farms in our region bring new resources, skills and capital that benefit Indi’s economy. Support for Landcare groups and regional coordinating networks will improve the natural resource base for future agricultural production.
The food processing sector is a major industry of Indi. Like all businesses, it needs modern and reliable infrastructure, such as access to road and rail links.
I will lobby for new investment in the innovative food and agriculture sector in Indi. I will work closely with former tobacco growers and other farmers facing structural adjustment to get new industries into the region.
- I will fight to increase investment in research and development. Innovation drives adaptation and flexibility to deliver profitable production systems.
- I will support local organisations that help deliver sustainable and adaptive agriculture businesses. Locally driven organisations such as Landcare and food distribution groups bring innovation to the industry.
- I will work with industry to improve the agriculture and food sector.
- I will lobby for the delivery of ongoing skill development and training for agriculture. Sustainable businesses are built on good management and production skills and we need to invest in human capital. The GOTAFE/Charles Sturt University partnership in Wangaratta is a new co-location model delivering such training.
- I will work with industry to identify and remove restrictions on their businesses. Trade barriers, as well as ineffective national compliance regulations, can hinder business growth. We also need to harmonise State regulations and inconsistent land use planning.
- I will work with the food processing sector to ensure they have appropriate transport, communications and infrastructure. Regional businesses rely on access to infrastructure to be competitive in local, national and international markets.