VICTORIA'S Gippsland region has a new, stronger voice on issues of agriculture matters: Food & Fibre Gippsland.
The amalgamation follows extensive consultations with members and other stakeholders across industry, government, research, education, and community around the benefits of joining forces.
The new group was officially endorsed by Consumer Affairs Victoria in early March.
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It is anticipated more Gippsland businesses and other organisations will join the new entity to access the benefits and be part of positive change initiatives.
The first board of Food & Fibre Gippsland includes four representatives of the boards of Agribusiness Gippsland and East Gippsland Food Cluster.
The members are Stuart Quigley, Nicola Pero, Kate Wallis, Brian Davey, Damien Gannon, Andrew Bulmer Sallie Jones and Barry Rogers.
East Gippsland Food Cluster chairman, Andrew Bulmer, said the existing ethos of both organisations will flow into Food & Fibre Gippsland, which will continue to be a member-based not-for-profit network striving to support the best outcomes for the food and fibre sector and the Gippsland community.
"The principles of collaboration and innovation are vitally important, as well as being able to effectively respond to and embrace very diverse needs and aspirations across the sector," Mr Bulmer said.
"Whilst the amalgamation has been going through its approval processes, everyone has been forging ahead with some brilliant initiatives and projects - so it's great to now bring them under one banner, as we continue to source and respond to more opportunities."
Mr Bulmer will be a co-deputy chair of the first Food & Fibre Gippsland board.
They may then view each other as collaborators, with the potential to leverage each other's strengths and resources to support better outcomes for their own businesses as well as the sector as a whole.
Agribusiness Gippsland chairman, Stuart Quigley, will also be co-deputy chair of the board.
Mr Quigley said producers, processors and other stakeholders can connect, network and share via their membership with Food & Fibre Gippsland.
"They may then view each other as collaborators, with the potential to leverage each other's strengths and resources to support better outcomes for their own businesses as well as the sector as a whole," Mr Quigley said.
Dr Nicola Watts has been chief executive officer of the East Gippsland Food Cluster since 2011 and will continue as interim CEO of Food & Fibre Gippsland,
She said she was delighted about the ongoing and future prospects for the sector to become the economic engine for the region.
"With the collaborative force of this amalgamation, we really have a golden opportunity to work together right across Gippsland to proactively shape sustainable future development of the food and fibre production and processing sector," she said.
Dr Watts will be Interim CEO until June 30, 2019.
Recruitment processes will be initiated for an independent chair and CEO.
Food Innovation Australia Limited's executive chairman, Peter Schutz is filling the independent chair role in an advisory capacity until a recruitment process is concluded.