CVFi chairperson Debrah Novak and vice chair Geoff Jones.
CVFi chairperson Debrah Novak and vice chair Geoff Jones.

$176M call to future-proof our food bowl

A NEWLY established Clarence Valley agri-food group is calling for a once-in-a-lifetime $175million funding commitment to future-proof the farming families and Clarence Valley agri-food sector.

Clarence Valley Food Inc (CVFi) board members Geoff Jones, Cara Austen, Daniel Spears and chairperson Debrah Novak are seeking a strong commitment for funding to ensure the survival and sustainability of the Clarence Valley agri-food sector, which the group believes faces major challenges around competitiveness, ageing, new technology and changing climate conditions.

"Our agriculture, aquaculture and horticultural industries are all over 100 years old and have stood the test of time," Ms Novak said.

"However to survive and be competitive for this next century they must now be future proofed."

CVFi has formulated a detailed $175million investment plan for the Clarence Valley agri-food sector.

Ms Novak said the next Federal Government must invest in infrastructure, asset renewals, innovation, technology, skill building and business models to capitalise on proposed food contracts for the new Clarence Correctional Centre whose contracts extends for 20 years and is worth $7 million annually.

"We have 1000 registered Clarence Valley primary producers who already contribute around half-a-billion dollars annually to the Gross Regional Product (GRP) through the agri-food economy," Ms Novak said.

"We are not seeking corporate welfare as our primary producers are family-owned and operated generational farming businesses. Instead we are seeking an investment into their future and others who want to enter."

Ms Novak said a $175million investment into their future and the agri-food sector would provide a long-term economic stimulus for small businesses to grow and expand and at the same time provide major employment and training opportunities for our youth who have the second highest unemployment rate (23.6%) in Australia.

"The agri-food sector will not continue to be the Clarence Valley's largest economic driver unless there is a major cash injection from whichever candidate is elected as the Member for Page on Saturday," she said.

"This is not a pie in the sky thought bubble as CVFi were funded by the National Farming Together Program for their strategic and business plans.

"We have consulted and researched for our future farming needs of the Clarence Valley and our group is ready to progress to the next stage."

Who will you vote for in Page at the 2019 Federal election?

This poll ended on 17 May 2019.

Current Results

FIONA LEVINY - Independent

2%

ALISON WATERS - Animal Justice Party

4%

PETER WALKER - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)

2%

JOHN MUDGE - United Australia Party

3%

DANIEL REID - Greens

4%

KEVIN HOGAN - Nationals

44%

PATRICK DEEGAN - Labor

35%

Undecided

2%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

How the $175m wishlist would be spent:

1. Comprehensive audit, review and map the Clarence Valley Agri-food Economy (for baseline data) = $500K.

2. Fund state of the art upgrade Grafton Sale Yards = $10M.

3. Create comprehensive Clarence Valley Agri-food Investment Guide and Digital Media Assets = $500K.

4. Fund CVfi Operational = $5M.

5. Build state of the art Clarence Valley Agri-Food Distribution hub = $10M.

6. Establish Clarence Valley state of the art domestic processing facility = $5M.

7. Establish Clarence Valley AG TECH Innovation Hub = $7M.

8. Fund Agri-food Research (Beef, Native Honey, Australian Native Food and Botanicals) = $15M.

9. Establish modern Macadamia Processing Plant = $10M.

10. Develop specific agri-food employment, training and business packages = $10M.

11. Upgrade Grafton Airport to state of the art storage and cold freight capability = $10M.

12. Update Northern Rivers Farmland Protection Project (2005) and the Mid North Coast Farmland mapping project (2008) = $1M.

13. Fund 'Farming for the Future' grants for community and environmental groups focussed on soil health and Ag productivity = $2M.

14. Fund community agri-food events to promote agriculture and agrifood economy in the Clarence Valley region = $3M.

15. Fund upgrades to the Clarence Valley honey and ti-tree processing plants = $8M.

16. Establish specialist agri-food social enterprise, co-operative, food entrepreneur school = $5M.

17. Establish North Coast specialist Agri-food labor hire company = $2M.

18. Establish Grafton transport hub to connect Summerland Way to Casino Intermodal Transport Hub = $15M.

19. Establish and enable Agri-food tourism across the Clarence Valley = $5M.

20. Establish International Australian Native Food Chef School = $11M.

21. Establish North Coast specialised Agrifood Function Centre = $10M.

22. Establish Clarence Valley farm renewal fund = $10M.

23. Establish Clarence Valley entry farming fund (for non farmers to enter the sector) = $10M.

24. Establish Clarence Valley Agrifood tertiary based scholarships = $5M.

25. Total = $175M.