Last Wednesday my local dairy industry gathered for the Great South West Dairy Awards, a concept I am proud to have helped develop while I was chair of WestVic Dairy as a way to acknowledge the contribution dairy makes to the south-west region’s economy.
Seventy per cent of farm businesses now employ outside the family, and the awards aim to highlight those who are at the forefront of the industry with a gala dinner that attracts the who’s who of dairy. The concept was developed in 2005 with a focus on the employer of the year and has grown to now include awards for environmental managers and business managers and a photo competition which attracts some stunning entries. From my electorate awards were presented to Isaac and Michelle Johnstone, Todd and Maddie Leddin, Peter and Fiona Musson and Jess Fleming. There were also several awards presented to farmers from the Polwarth electorate, and it was great to have the member for Polwarth in attendance.
There is no doubt it has been a tough year in the dairy industry, an industry which contributes so much to the Victorian economy, so it is disappointing to see in the budget that not one dollar set aside for regional infrastructure from the port of Melbourne lease will be of benefit to the dairy industry in South-West Coast. This industry helped build the port of Melbourne, and dairy is the biggest exporter out of the port. What a perfect example of the government’s lack of commitment to the dairy industry.