Australian-grown food study wins funds

A COMMUNITY-owned food processing co-operative in the Goulburn Valley may become a reality with the Victorian Coalition Government announcing a feasibility study on the proposal.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Goulburn Valley community had rallied following a decision by Heinz to close its Girgarre tomato processing facility.

“The Coalition Government wants to support the continuation of food processing enterprise in the region and we are pleased to provide $30,000 funding to the Campaspe Shire Council to conduct a feasibility study to explore the establishment of a co-operative,” Mr Ryan said.

“Heinz is the only significant employer near Girgarre and the closure of the factory is likely to have significant implications for the local economy and community wellbeing.

“Fruit growers in the Goulburn Valley also rely on food processing factories for their livelihoods and it is important we consider innovative ways in which we can continue to support them,” Mr Ryan said.

Member for Rodney Paul Weller said the feasibility study was an essential first step in the possible development of a community co-operative for the region.

“The Australian Grown Food Co-operative Feasibility Study will involve a detailed risk assessment on the venture, explore potential markets and distribution channels and examine possible sites for a processing facility,” Mr Weller said.

“This project will support the future economic growth of the Goulburn Valley by developing and testing the idea of a community-owned business model which might be used to support future investment and jobs creation in the region.

“The study will provide an alternative model for the development of Australian food capacity and will recommend options for engaging local communities in food production and distribution,” Mr Weller said.

The report is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Local government and the Goulburn Valley Food Action Co-operative will provide the remaining funds for the $60,000 study.

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