Victoria’s biosecurity will receive $44.4million over two years as part of a funding boost announced by the Andrews Government last week ahead of the 2017-18 state budget.
The funding, which will go towards maintaining the state’s agriculture biosecurity, has been welcomed by the VFF, with president David Jochinke calling the announcement ‘‘fantastic’’.
‘‘Australia’s stringent biosecurity protocols is the reason our farmers can compete in global markets, so it’s fantastic to see the government make a serious funding promise to maintain the quality of our biosecurity,’’ he said.
Although he said the two-year funding was an improvement on previous one-year commitments, Mr Jochinke said biosecurity needed to be funded in the same way as police and health services.
‘‘Our reputation as a nation free from many of the diseases and pests that plague the rest of the world is still on the line,’’ he said.
‘‘We expect essential services like police and health departments will receive permanent funding to perform their duties, and biosecurity needs to rank on that scale as an essential service that is necessary to preserving the agriculture industry.’’
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the announcement showed the government understood strong biosecurity equalled a strong agriculture sector.
‘‘Victoria’s primary producers continue to punch well above their weight,’’ Ms Pulford said.
‘‘They’re doing their part — it’s up to government to do ours.
‘‘By investing in biosecurity, we’re protecting our state’s clean, green reputation and the livelihood of thousands of Victorian farmers.’’
Mr Jochinke said the VFF had been highlighting ‘‘eroding’’ biosecurity funding for several years, including a cut in funding of 49 per cent in 2009-10 and 2014-15.
‘‘It’s vital that this is addressed to give the farm sector the best chance to respond to any disease outbreaks like foot and mouth disease,’’ he said.
The government has also announced an additional $19.2million over four years as part of a 10-year plan to eradicate the red imported fire ant.