Strategic Plan Launch Media Release

Friday 23 April 2021

MEDIA RELEASE

FOOD AND FIBRE KICKS OFF BOLD STRATEGY
TO GROW OUR REGIONAL FUTURES

Food and Fibre Great South Coast today launched ‘Growing Our Regional Futures’, a strategic roadmap to realise the future prosperity of the Great South Coast. This roadmap looks beyond just food, and focuses more broadly on all our producers and the supply chain in the region, be it food, aquaculture, horticulture, forestry or other fibres. The launch was proudly supported by key partners, NAB Regional and Agribusiness, Moyne Shire Council and Deakin University, Warrnambool.

Driving 60 per cent of the regional economy and accounting for over one in five of the region’s jobs, the food and fibre sector is the largest employer in the Great South Coast. However, it is faced with significant challenges which need to be addressed such as 30 per cent skilled labour shortage, the underutilisation of high-value assets such as groundwater, and educational attainment which lags behind the state average.

The 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, launched by Food and Fibre Great South Coast, is an impact-focused blueprint addressing these challenges and boosting the region’s economic potential through lifting productivity and attracting resources to meet the demands of the future.

Food and Fibre Great South Coast Chair, Ms Georgina Gubbins, said the plan outlines a practical and collaborative approach which builds on the strong economic foundations of the region.

“Whether it be COVID19, climate change or international market volatility, our sector has continued to deliver. The Great South Coast is incredibly well positioned to be Australia’s most prosperous, productive, innovative, and sustainable food and fibre production region.” said Gubbins.

The Strategy outlines four key actions to drive regional investment, improve the utilisation of natural resources, champion the region’s high quality agricultural output, and attract and retain a talented workforce. “I welcome the opportunity to work with partners across the Great South Coast region through the roll-out of the Strategy outlined as we build towards a prosperous and exciting shared future” said Gubbins.

Mr Alistair McCosh, Deputy Chair of Food and Fibre Great South Coast, said “Food and Fibre Great South Coast’s approach to create quality outcomes that target value creation in these four key areas is critical to extracting and sharing value, creating long-term partnerships and shared value for the thousands of businesses that comprise the food and fibre supply chain in our region.”

Guests heard video addresses from the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP, Minister for Regional Development and Agriculture and Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon. David Littleproud MP, Federal Minister.

The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, Minister for Regional Development and Agriculture noted, “Victoria’s Strategy for Agriculture is intrinsically aligned with the Food and Fibre Great South Coast, Growing Our Regional Futures Strategy. We share a common goal: protecting the sector and Victoria’s enviable position as a leader in agriculture, while helping grow its potential.

I congratulate the Board, led by Georgina Gubbins, and Executive Officer Natalie Collard, on delivering a strategic road map that will drive a strong, sustainable and innovative food and fibre sector for the Great South Coast. I look forward to working with Food and Fibre Great South Coast to unlock opportunities to grow this region further.”

The Hon. David Littleproud MP, Federal Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, “As Victoria’s largest food and fibre producing region, the Great South Coast continues to make an extraordinary contribution to the agriculture industry’s goal to become a $100 billion industry by 2030. This year agriculture is on track for record production levels, and this is thanks to the hard work and dedication of people in regional communities like the Great South Coast.

I congratulate Food and Fibre Great South Coast for its leadership and commitment to Australian agriculture, demonstrated through the delivery of this strategic plan. The Australian Government looks forward to continuing to work with the incredible food and fibre producers in the Great South Coast to make our agriculture industry even stronger.”

Mr Mark Wootton geologist and carbon neutral beef, lamb, wool and timber at Jigsaw Farms just north of Hamilton, provided the keynote speech. “Our experience in sustainable farming at Jigsaw farms shows that we can scale to a regional level and sustainably grow the food and fibre we produce in the Great South Coast. By using Climate Smart Farming methods we will further protect our land and water assets and utilise our natural advantages across the region. In fact, by getting farmers economically growing and in the black, they will be enabled to be in the green even more so than they are at present!”

The launch of the Strategic Plan was warmly welcomed by national, regional and business leaders.

The Hon. Dan Tehan, Member for Wannon: “I want to congratulate Food and Fibre Great South Coast Inc. as the representative body for food and fibre on the Great South Coast. I also acknowledge and congratulate you on your ongoing commitment to growing the value of regional food and fibre production providing even more wonderful opportunities in Western Victoria.

There is no greater time to be in agriculture and the production of food and fibre, with Australian agriculture continuing to grow as a sector and the continued contribution to the growth of the nation’s GDP, cementing its position as one of the economic powerhouses driving the nation. The Great South Coast is well positioned in this agricultural powerhouse, and this ‘Regional Futures Strategy’ will capitalise on our industry strengths, further driving investment and sustainability whilst nurturing and championing the regions food and fibre.”

Ms Roma Britnell MP, Member for South West Coast: “I commend Chair Georgina Gubbins, the Food and Fibre Great South Coast Board, and Executive Officer Natalie Collard on the Growing Our Regional Futures Strategy which maps out the steps they will take to achieve our mutual ambition to be a world-leading regional and agricultural hub. The future of the agriculture sector in the south-west is strong and this strategy will ensure we capitalise on that strength. The commitment, drive and collaboration of the farming community of South West Victoria is renowned and this strategy continues that leadership tradition.”

Ms Libby Coker MP, Member for Corangamite: “The Great South Coast has vibrant and diverse ecosystem which is driven by a food and fibre sector that has capacity for enormous, sustainable growth through innovation. I am delighted to see Food and Fibre Great South Coast articulate the roadmap to achieve precisely this, and the spirit of teamwork they are bringing to work collaboratively towards a prosperous future for all living in the South West Victoria. There is no doubt that together we can bring this vision to life.”

Mr Stuart Grimley, Member for Western Victoria: “Agriculture and food and fibre production are the heart of regional Victorian towns and communities. When these industries are successful, regional Victoria is successful. I would like to congratulate Chair Georgina Gubbins and the Food and Fibre Great South Coast Board for creating a strategy and vision for continued prosperity of the Great South Coast.”

Ms Beverly McArthur, Member for Western Victoria Region: “I believe that Food and Fibre Great South Coast’s new strategy can play an important role in the development of the agricultural sector across the five shires. By identifying the constraints faced, it provides a real focus for growth in industries which make up 60% of the region’s economy. The practical, collaborative approach builds on the common-sense and community spirit of generations of farmers in our area, which has brought prosperity in the past and will continue to do so. The sector’s strong performance despite COVID and the loss of important international export markets demonstrates the essential resilience of regional Victoria, and I am confident that this strategy will help capitalise on the assets and abilities of the industry.”

Councillor Daniel Meade, Mayor of Moyne Shire Council: “Food and Fibre Great South Coast provides a regional, coordinated voice across five shires, helping to drive change for economic growth and support our farmers. As leaders of the region it is so important that we come together to support the growth of the industry. We must work together both locally and with the state and federal governments to support our agricultural industry.”

Mr Jack Luxford, NAB Agribusiness Manager and Food and Fibre Great South Coast Board Member: “ NAB Regional and Agribusiness is committed to the sustainable growth of industry in the Great South Coast. As Australia’s largest business bank we are proud to be promoting the launch of this plan to Grow Our Regional Futures together.”

Mr Grant Sutherland, CEO Deakin South West Victoria: “Deakin University welcomes the strategic roadmap for the Food and Fibre sector in the Great South Coast. Deakin recognises the significance and strength of this sector in the Great South Coast and the great opportunities it has. We look forward to working with the GSC Food and Fibre Council and other stakeholders on key initiatives such as workforce development and partnering with industry to undertake research that has impact.”

Councillor Anita Rank, Chair Great South Coast Group: “Great South Coast Group welcomes the launch of this strategic plan. Only through advocating with a coordinated, regional voice that represents every sector and supply chain, can we influence positive policy change in power, water and workforce attraction, which currently stand as barriers to realising the full potential of food and fibre production in our region.”

Ms Lisa Dwyer, Chair Great South Coast Regional Partnership: “The Great South Coast has great natural beauty, generous water and soil resources and some of the best farming, forestry and fishing conditions in the country. Realising our region’s potential in this important sector and increasing community prosperity continues to be a key priority for our region. We are pleased that our work has assisted in amplifying the voice of many others who have advocated strongly for investment in food and fibre development in our region.”

Ms Doreen Power, Chair of South West Primary Care Partnership: “The Food and Fibre Great South Coast Strategic plan is an enabler to improving the Great South Coast Regions Rural and Regional Liveability. Many of the planned strategies partner across sectors to deliver significant; economic, educational and health and wellbeing outcomes. South West Primary Care Partnership looks forward to working in partnership with Food and Fibre Great South Coast to collectively create better outcomes for the Great South Coast Region.

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Media enquires:
Natalie Collard

Executive Officer

Ph: 0413 009 373

E:
natalie@southcoastfoodfibre.com.au