FARMING and farm-related research is expected to get a boost of more than $60 million in tomorrow's state budget, with new spending likely for major segments of Victorian agriculture including grains, red meat, dairy and stone fruit production.
The government is believed to be developing a four-year strategy to develop segments in which Victorian farmers have a competitive advantage over producers elsewhere. The program is believed to be the Coalition's successor to the Brumby government's ''Future Farming Strategy''.
The new farm program will be aimed at lifting productivity and profitability in some of the state's biggest agricultural export earners including dairy, lamb and beef production, and selected horticulture areas such as table grapes, almonds and stone fruit.
It is believed the program will include about $20 million to tackle pest animals, diseases and weeds that threaten agriculture. The grains industry funding, which could be more than $10 million, is expected to be aimed at improving plant genetics, product resilience and productivity.The program is likely to reflect themes that Premier Ted Baillieu espoused in an address to the Victorian Farmers Federation annual conference in Bendigo recently.
Mr Baillieu told farmers they were ideally placed to capitalise on demand for food from a surging Asian middle class. ''The rise of Asia, fuelled by a prosperous and growing Asian middle class … presents huge opportunities for Victoria,'' Mr Baillieu said.
Farmers are likely to welcome any additional spending on agriculture in the budget, but they are likely to wonder why the new program is far smaller than the former government's $205 million Future Farming Strategy.