Farm planning support

KEN JENKINS

UP to 600 irrigation farmers across northern Victoria are set to be offered future planning support.

The Plan2Farm program is backed by funding from the Victorian Government and professional support and guidance from seven regional based agencies.

The ambitious program was launched on a farm near Serpentine.

North Central Catchment Management Authority program delivery executive manager, Tim Shanahan said that irrigation farmers in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District are facing rapid change and the need for structural adjustment.

"Change is like death and taxes," he said.

"It's going to happen, so we are here to assist farmers through the changes, supporting rather than being reactive."

The Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District system is the largest irrigation system in Victoria. It covers 9950 square kilometres and accounts for more than 70 per cent of water stored in Victoria and almost 90 per cent of water used in irrigation across the State.

Mr Shanahan said that the program will guide farming families to discern their future with assistance from an independent third party.

"We have already involved 100 in a trial. Some are connected, some deciding, so we know it works," he said.

The Plan2Farm program involves farmers working with support agencies to plan ahead using a resource workbook.

ALLIANCE. North Central Catchment Management Authority chief executive, Brad Drust signs the Plan2Farm agreement watched by representatives of other support agencies.

ALLIANCE. North Central Catchment Management Authority chief executive, Brad Drust signs the Plan2Farm agreement watched by representatives of other support agencies.

The workbook is intended to help the farmer thing through and talk about the future of their farm.

It is designed to generate discussion, to provide information to help farmers make informed decisions and to prompt thinking about the whole-farm business, including where the farmers are heading and what their goals are.

Mr Shanahan said that farmers will be guided through the key steps and how to determine their vision and they will also receive follow-up support.

"Skilled people will sit with you in the kitchen, 24 to 30 months later, help you refine the changes and remove blockages," he said.

Plan2Farm was funded by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and supported by Regional Development Victoria, Agriculture Victoria, North Central Catchment Management Authority, Goulburn-Broken Catchment Management Authority, North East Catchment Management Authority, Murray Dairy and Goulburn-Murray Water.

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