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McGauran announces new regional food processing group.



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DAFF05/1PM - 13 July 2005

McGauran announces new regional food processing group

Australian Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran today announced the make-up of a new group that will play a key role in helping small-to-medium sized companies set up and expand food processing businesses in rural and regional areas.

Mr McGauran said the group would assess funding applications under the Australian Government's landmark new Food Processing in Regional Australia Program.

"The program provides matching, competitive funding to small-to-medium agribusinesses and food processors in rural and regional Australia," he said.

"As well as encouraging the value-adding of farm produce and other commodities, the program will help individuals and groups form networks of farm, food and marketing-related businesses to maximise the regional benefits of well-placed processing initiatives.

"And it's already attracting a lot of interest, with the first funding round, which closed on 1 June 2005, attracting 168 applications.

"This clearly shows that there is a strong need for this type of program and the benefits it will deliver to communities across rural and regional Australia."

Mr McGauran said the Food Processing in Regional Australia Advisory Group would be chaired by the Melbourne Business School's Prof John Bailey. The other members are:

• Malcolm Bush - Managing Director, Bush International Logistics

• Derek De Vrieze - Manager, Regional Equity Markets, Bendigo Bank

• Richard Souness - General Manager Food Policy and Safety, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

• Simone Tully - General Manager, OBE Beef (livestock/organics entrepreneur)

• Grahame Turk - Managing Director, Sydney Fishmarket

• Angela Whittington - Managing Director, Sugar Plum Farm (fruit producer, entrepreneur).

"Members of the group represent a broad cross-section of industry, rural finance, marketing and agri-business development specialists from across Australia," Mr McGauran said.

"As well as a proven track record of achievement and leadership in their fields of expertise, they also have the skills and industry understanding to get the job done."

The program's second round of funding will open on 29 July 2005 and close on 5 October 2005. Prospective applicants should visit - www.daff.gov.au/regionalfood - or call the hotline - 1300 794 550 - for more details.

Further media inquiries:

Minister McGaurans' office: Gemma Allman 0408 971 708