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Farmers can meet demand

By David Rak

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The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) is asking people not to panic about running out of food.

VFF president David Jochinke said he understood the panic and fear, but Victorian farmers were well placed to meet the demand.

“We feed you and we will continue to feed you,” he said.

“It’s timely that we reflect on the remarkable scale of food that we produce in Victoria.

“We produce more than we consume. We are a nett exporter. At the moment we are experiencing an unrealistic surge in demand.

“That means if Victorians continue to purchase in bulk, it might take a few days to get things from paddock to plate.”

Victoria accounts for 23 per cent of Australia’s total gross value of agriculture, 42 per cent of its sheep and lamb meat, 62 per cent of its milk and 32 per cent of its horticultural products.

Mr Jochinke said Victoria had a strong competitive advantage across multiple agricultural industries, including a global reputation as a source of clean, safe food and fibre and diversity of food it produced.

“Undoubtedly, there will be some challenges going forward,” Mr Jochinke said.

“We are keeping a close watch on workforce, labour and supply chain issues as well as the reactions from our trading partners.

“The VFF continues to work closely with the federal and state governments to map these issues, plan for them and address them.”

Mr Jochinke said COVID-19 may affect the movements of seasonal, casual and permanent workers and that may have an impact on the ability of farms to secure much-needed workers.

“Similarly, there may be attendant supply chain issues associated with transportation including road, air and freight,” he said.

“In terms of our trading partners, we are seeing product being redirected away from China to other markets including Japan, USA and South-East Asia.

“Agriculture has proven time and time again to be able to withstand many of the economic shocks that often decimate other industries and we anticipate this pandemic will be no different.

“We applaud the stimulus packages, the work of the banks and corporate Australia. We are in this together and we are working in close partnership with government.

“We know these are unprecedented times. As always, we have got your back.”