The Nationals Upper House MP Melina Bath called on the Government to better promote SSAA’s Farmer Assist program last week.
The Member for Eastern Victoria brought the matter to the attention of Parliament (Page 118 on the Hansard document) following a meeting of SSAA Victoria representatives and The Nationals members in which several issues concerning the Association were raised.
“We have a laundry list of matters we are bringing to the attention of MPs and government agencies to get a better outcome for our members,” said SSAA Victoria Communications Manager Justin Law.
“Farmer Assist is among them and it was gratifying that on the same day as our meeting with The Nationals, it was brought up as a positive program designed to help farmers control pests and give our members the opportunity to provide a valuable service.
“Engaging farmers to participate in the program has been a challenge so it’s great that a political party representing rural Victorians has thrown their weight behind it.”
In calling on the Agriculture Minister to help promote the program, Ms Bath pointed out that Farmer Assist was well regulated with participants required to meet a high standard of competency which is assessed by SSAA Victoria’s Training and Education team.
“The Farmer Assist program has been going for a little over two years, but the SSAA would like it to gain more traction to benefit the farming community,” she told the Legislative Council.
“Standard operating procedures ensure that all of the highly trained members of the SSAA take the highest level of animal welfare into consideration when controlling pests.
“Landholders have total control over who comes onto their property, and the key thing which I learned today is that the program is very much about the creation of a relationship between the landholder and the SSAA member.”
Other issues raised at the meeting earlier in the day included the introduction of a Waterfowl Conservation Harvest Model to create a scientific approach to determining Duck Season conditions, the VEAC proposal to lock up land in National Parks in the State’s west, and the continuation of the Conservation and Pest Management program.
“We raised 11 issues in total including securing land for a centrefire gun range in Melbourne’s east, deer management and even getting Gifkins Road leading to our Eagle Park Range sealed,” Mr Law said.
“It was part of an ongoing advocacy program which involves regular meetings with politicians and government agencies to ensure our members are represented on issues which concern us.”
Photo caption: At The Nationals breakfast meeting with SSAA Victoria last week were (from left) Tim McCurdy MP, Melina Bath MLC, SSAA Victoria Communications Manager Justin Law, SSAA Victoria Hunting Development Manager David Laird and Danny O’Brien MP.