NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.
Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.
"Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers," Ms Lovell said.
"Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don't have that connection to farming and the land," she said
"We need to rebuild the connection and understanding."
She said there was ample material to help tell positive stories about ag.
"There are a lot of really fantastic stories about how agriculture is improving and leading the way on the sustainability front, through things like the massive improvements in water use efficiency, reduced tillage, increased use of organic fertilisers and more strategic use of herbicides," she said.
"Our job is to ensure the general public hear about it and are aware of what we are doing."
Ms Lovell said there were many examples of producers telling their story, through social and mainstream media, but she said all food producing industries should work together to promote their product and understanding of modern production methods.
"It is no good if one industry is doing well with consumer relations at the expense of another, I'm hoping we can bring everyone in and work together."
"The VFF is currently working on a project, funded by the Andrews Labor Government, designed to build relationships between agriculture and the wider community," she said.
"It will provide a forum for people to ask questions about farming and for farmers to talk about our practices, our achievements and our plans for the future."
"We have a fantastic opportunity to highlight the face of modern farming in 2021."
Ms Lovell said her first few weeks had demonstrated right to farm issues would continue to be important.
"As the state's farm lobby group we're going to be very strong on issues like farming on the urban fringe and the attempt to classify agricultural manure as industrial waste, we're going to be a strong advocate for the industry in this space."
Ms Lovell comes to the VFF after spending time at Agrifutures, previously the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and also has substantial experience in the seafood and horticulture spaces.
She has previously held the role of chief executive of Seafood Industry Australia, while in horticulture she worked in onion disease pathology before moving into a quality and systems role.
"I was very happy in my previous role, but when this position came up I saw it as an amazing opportunity to bring my experience and passion together to promote and advocate for Victorian farmers. "This is a moment in time where the community has a growing interest in food, how it is produced, where it is from.
"The VFF is well positioned to bring connect rural and urban communities in a way that benefits all.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge," she said.