CEO Update - Connecting and Advocating
To say it’s been a challenging year for everyone in our Gippsland food and fibre industry doesn’t even go close to the reality – and for Victoria, whilst the daily numbers are looking very promising, it's not quite over yet.
Resilience has been as strong as the frustration, and kindness by many running as deep as despair for others.
Food & Fibre Gippsland has been working hard to represent member's interests and extend both voice and influence.
We’ve taken dairy and horticulture representatives to meet with Senator Raff Ciccone (when travel to Melbourne was still possible!); given industry representation on the Bushfire Recovery Steering Group and weekly Agriculture Victoria State COVID Stakeholder Reference Group meetings.
Discussions have occurred with Super IGA CEO Fred Harrison on expanded opportunities for Gippsland producers and presentations to each Local Government Authority across Gippsland, re-engaging them with our organisation and member profiles.
We accepted an invitation to join the Gippsland Regional Dairy Leadership Group together with building a closer relationship with Agriculture Victoria.
Collaboration has been front and centre including with Destination Gippsland -some further announcements coming soon on that, regular engagements with RDV and contribution to the Gippsland Regional Plan on behalf of our members and the food & fibre sector as a whole.
F&FG now sit as a strategic industry stakeholder on the newly formed ONE Gippsland Board, providing important engagement with the six LGA Mayors and CEO’s.
Our relationship with Federation University Australia has deepened and expanded on several projects with a major announcement due in the next couple of weeks which will give national exposure to Gippsland and our producers.
Our annual Excellence in Agribusiness Awards judging has concluded – and with an incredibly diverse and comprehensive 100+ entries – winners will be announced online in late November.
Several grant programs have been extended and a couple of new grant programs won and started, reflecting success despite the enormous challenges of the year.
We continue to attract and welcome new members and we’ll soon be announcing some timely and opportune collaborations with other sectors.
Development and delivery of the food and fibre Smart Specialisation projects continues in partnership with Latrobe Valley Authority and our Gippsland Regional Agrifood Employment program (never as important as right now in connecting the region's job seekers with employers) has again been extended.
For those that have been able to pivot your business in any small way during this pandemic crisis, congratulations, as given the circumstances, this is nothing less than admirable and amazing.
For those hit harder and facing different challenges to others, let’s hope easing of restrictions in Melbourne are will enable at least some of the sales supply chain to open up – something we continue to advocate for at State level.
Lots more detail on successes, advocacy and future focus areas will be available in the Food & Fibre Gippsland 2020 Annual Report which will be published and available prior to the late November AGM.
It’s challenging to see it right now, but ahead will be incredible opportunity for our members with a political focus on investment to this sector – if COVID has done anything positive, it has opened eyes to food security, the importance of local provenance and ownership of supply chains here in Australia.
As we step forwards, we will step together.
Stay safe in what appears to be a new world for everyone ahead.