The Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas, is urging local producers and agri-businesses to apply for the Andrews Labor Government’s new $20 million Food Source Victoria program ahead of applications opening on 1 July, 2015.

Ms Thomas made the announcement from the historic Bolobek in Mt Macedon which is home to one of the largest cattle farms in the Macedon Ranges Shire.

Forming a key election commitment for the Andrews Government, the program will support producers to work together to market their produce, grow our local industries and boost exports.

Food Source Victoria will allocate $18 million in grants to support agri-food businesses across regional Victoria to conduct research, develop marketing plans, produce innovative products and build skills to better compete in export markets.

By working together the program will adopt a “paddock to plate” approach, capitalising on new opportunities and growing global demand for Victorian produce, supporting our farmers and growers to lead the world.

Grants will be available to support alliances of agri-food businesses in regional Victoria and value chain partnerships. Successful applicants will be eligible for up to $5000 grants for planning and up to $250,000 for projects.

In addition, Food Source Victoria’s scholarships program will provide $2 million to better equip regional Victorians to develop the skills and knowledge they need to develop in-demand products and grow our economy.

The scholarships will target innovative Victorians who live in regional Victoria and work in agri-business, allowing them to expand into new markets or launch a new product, which will boost exports and create jobs.

At least $1 million will be allocated to support women across regional Victoria and across Macedon to develop their skills and continue contributing to Victoria’s food and fibre sector.

Food Source Victoria is funded through the Labor Government’s $500 million Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund, with applications open from 1 July, 2015.

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Quotes attributable to Member for Macedon, Mary-Anne Thomas

“This is a fantastic opportunity for producers, processors and exporters across Macedon to work together with the support of the Government, to find new opportunities to boost exports and build capacity.”

“The scholarships will help our up and coming local agri-business professionals build their skills and expand their businesses.”

“With applications opening from 1 July, I would urge all interested producers and agri-businesses in Macedon to find out more information about how they can benefit from Food Source Victoria.”

Quotes attributable to Brigid Robertson, owner of Bolobek, Mt Macedon and member of the Macedon Ranges Agri-Business Forum

“As farmers with a long-term connection to agriculture in the Macedon Ranges, the ‘paddock to plate approach’ represents an exciting opportunity for agri-food businesses to build partnerships in the region”.

“The grant program also provides the opportunity for producers to grow their business and explore export markets”.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Farmers Federation President, Peter Tuohey

“Victorian agriculture, in particular horticulture, look set to win big and it is pleasing to see the Government backing our producers.”

“Victorian horticulture, with the right support from both industry and government has the potential to triple in size by 2030 and become one of the biggest exports out of the state.”