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The Victorian Coalition Government has delivered a key election promise by committing $5 million to help establish food and fibre marketing co-operatives.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said co-operatives could help maximise the marketing potential of the state’s farm produce, allowing farmers to band together to promote their world-class products directly and more effectively to consumers.
At Ballarat co-operative Southern Quality Produce’s grain storage facility in Werneth today, Mr Walsh said new or recently established co-operatives or collaborative marketing groups were now eligible to apply for grants of up to $50,000 for legal advice, business plans and other support.
“The purpose of the Food and Fibre Marketing Co-operatives Program is to support cooperative groups of food and fibre producers and other businesses along the supply chain to market their produce more effectively and improve market access,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Coalition Government is supporting the formation of local co-operatives or collaborative marketing groups to provide food and fibre producers with more marketing power.
“The grants will be available for legal costs associated with establishing the group, feasibility studies and business plans, business and technical advice, market research and training in business management.”
Mr Walsh said the program would be administered by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), with financial assistance to be managed through Rural Finance. DPI will appoint a case officer to support each application and liaise on market information and other relevant advice.
“Grants will be provided on a dollar for dollar basis, with the cooperative group meeting half the cost of establishment and associated advice,” Mr Walsh said.
“To be eligible, groups must have at least five members who are commercial farmers or associated value chain business operators.
“This year is International Year of Co-operatives and this funding commitment by the Coalition Government will boost the confidence, expertise and capacity of our food and fibre producers to market their product in domestic and international markets.”
Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder said the grants would give more market power to farmers in the region.
“This support will help to empower groups of farmers across regional Victoria to regain some market power for themselves in negotiating with customers and promoting quality primary produce,” Mr Mulder said.
Applications for grants should be made through Rural Finance. For more information on the Food and Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Program and on how to apply go to www.dpi.vic.gov.au/marketing-cooperatives-grants.