AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside attended an Agriculture Industry roundtable in Canberra on Thursday last week with Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie, Deputy PM Michael McCormack and Emergency Response Minister David Littleproud to discuss bushfires affecting growers.

AUSVEG has focused on the following points to advocate:

  • Improved critical road reliability – focus on Princes Highway and Eyre Highway road closures.
  • Energy Bill Rebates – given cold storages have been impacted due to limited transport options.
  • Freight subsidy for Kangaroo Island – subsidy to assist with getting essential infrastructure to the island for the rebuild.
  • ‘Support Local’ campaign – a national campaign encouraging consumers to continue to support growers by buying Australian-grown produce.

Other key points included:

  • Funding for vital infrastructure such as irrigation, fencing and accommodation.
  • Council and water rate relief, extending the $1m drought affected community shire and council funding to bushfire-affected shires and councils.
  • Increased mental health services.
  • Increased Rural Financial Counselling Services.