Hepburn Shire has some of the best soil and water for a thriving food production system.
The region is considered a food bowl, known for great produce and wine. But sadly, some of our local produce providers are feeling a lack of support – the support that is so crucial to their survival.
Many of our local small-scale farmers are struggling. We have seen the dramatic decline in local spud farms over recent years as family farms continue battling rising costs which making it increasingly difficult to make a proft.
We must find a sustainable model for small-scale farmers to ensure our region continues as a ‘food hub’ into the future.
Support for our farmers is needed from all levels.
Community support starts with buying locally grown produce from farm gates or farmers markets.
On a local government level, council must maintain a continued conversation with farmers to ensure a fair rate system. Council planning and permit application processes should not be onerous but accessible for those looking to begin a venture in small-scale agribusiness.
Peri-urban sprawl has been raised as a threat to the future of farming in the region, as valuable agriculture land is cemented over for housing.
On a government level, assess regulation for farmers should be assessed. Regulation designed for the big players in the farming industry can make operation unnecessarily difficult for our small-scale farmers.
Alla-Wolf Tasker AM’s vision for an Institute of Gastronomy is good news for the future of the sector and one aspect of support that is needed moving forward.
As Ms Wolf-Tasker says, small producers currently lack the capacity to source expert knowledge to advance their businesses and evolve their craft. The Institute of Gastronomy as a centre of learning for sustainable and regenerative agriculture will assist our local producers and provide new opportunities for increasing agribusiness in the region.
We continue to watch the number of spud farms drop off as other small-scale farmers struggle to make a profit. Support and change is crucial to the survival of our small-scale farms and maintaining the region’s reputation as a ‘food bowl’.
Creating a local food hub is better for the health of the community and better for the environment. Great opportunity exists for small-scale farms to thrive in our region.