The Liberal National Coalition has promised Australia’s livestock, horticulture and agritech industries $6 million of Federal funding to support major agricultural events if re-elected on May 21. The three-year package would include $1 million for Casino Beef Week, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and $1 million for sheep and lamb conference LambEx. $2 million would go towards horticultural conferences including Hort Connections, with another $2 million for events showcasing Australian innovation and agritech. Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud announced the Coalition’s latest pre-election agriculture cash splash while visiting the NSW town of Casino on Monday. He said the business partnerships formed through Casino Beef Week and other large agricultural events were “a cornerstone of agricultural growth”. “Large events like Casino Beef Week, LambEx and Hort Connections bring the agricultural and supply chain sectors together to create partnerships, foster innovations and show off our world-class agricultural products,” Mr Littleproud said. “Hort Connections is the largest horticultural conference and trade show in the Southern Hemisphere, typically bringing together over 3000 industry representatives including more than 1000 vegetable and fruit growers from around Australia. “LambEx is a joint initiative of producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, researchers and service providers. “It is a truly national event that’s been running since 2010 and this support will help to secure its ongoing future.” LambEx is hosted by a different State every two years, with the 2018 event held at UWA Farm Ridgefield in West Pingelly. LambEx was among the many casualties of COVID-19, with the pandemic forcing its cancellation last year after it was postponed in 2020. In its pre-election wishlist, national peak industry body Sheep Producers Australia called for the next Federal Government to commit $4 million over four years to help jumpstart the event. “LambEx has historically been a showcase event for the industry and was one of the many events that were postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdowns,” SPA chief executive Bonnie Skinner said. “Sheep Producers Australia and industry partners would like to see the event return in 2023. “Industry conferences and events such as LambEx are important to industry to demonstrate the quality of Australian lamb… and showcase the latest research, solutions, and innovative products for industry.” The funding has also been welcomed by the peak body for the Australian vegetable and potato industries, AUSVEG, which delivers the annual Hort Connections event in partnership with the International Fresh Produce Association of Australia and New Zealand. “Vegetable and fruit growers are grappling with an uncertain future in the face of rising input costs and labour shortages, which is undermining confidence and placing considerable stress on growers and their businesses,” AUSVEG chief executive Michael Coote said. “Industry events such as Hort Connections are an important avenue to foster face-to-face interactions with growers and the wider industry to not only learn about the latest technologies and growing practices, but also much-needed networking that is vital to support the social networks within the industry that growers can rely on in tough times.” Mr Coote said such events were a valuable opportunity for farmers to network with their peers and colleagues across the entire supply chain. “(They) allow the industry to put its best foot forward as it looks to continue its expansion through new markets and new product development,” he said. Mr Littleproud said the $2 million allocated for Australia’s digital agritech industries would help them showcase Australian innovation through their own events. “Growing digital agriculture by connecting the farmer with the best tools available is key to additional farm productivity,” he said. “These events also connect our industry with investment capital. That is why we’ll work with the Australian Agritech Association and AgriFutures to support events that showcase innovation and digital agriculture.” The Australian Farm Institute has estimated digital technologies could help the agriculture industry increase the gross value of production by more than $20 billion. “By backing industry events, we can strengthen Australia’s agricultural ecosystem, attract local and global investors and grow our food and fibre systems to $100 billion in 2030,” Mr Littleproud said.