Pledge for agribusiness boost

Jaala Pulford, Sally Brennan, Benjamin Hamilton and Aaron Malmborg.

By Casey Neill

 A re-elected Labor State Government would tip in $10 million to grow small-scale agribusiness.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford joined Labor Eildon candidate Sally Brennan at Watts River Brewing in Healesville on Wednesday 7 November to announce the plan to create jobs and attract more visitors.

The grant fund would be available from the second half of next year to small-scale agribusinesses that produce craft food, beer and spirits.

Up to $200,000 would be available to producers who could show the investment would help them to scale up their operations and create new, local jobs.

Watts River Brewing owners Benjamin Hamilton and Aaron Malmborg said they would apply.

They need to invest in more equipment and add more staff to continue growing their business.

Mr Hamilton and Mr Malmborg met at White Rabbit Brewery, and started brewing about three years ago after White Rabbit move to Geelong.

“It gave us the kick up the butt we needed,” Mr Hamilton said.

Their wives, parents and other family members and friends help out with operations.

“We’ve both got young families and would like a weekend,” Mr Malmborg said.

Ms Pulford said Victoria was the epicentre of Australia’s craft beer revolution and Yarra Valley breweries such as Watts River, Hargreaves Hill, Coldstream and Napoleone were taking on the nation and beyond.

“This will create new jobs and new opportunities for local businesses in the Yarra Valley, as well as helping our amazing local small producers live their dreams,” she said.

Ms Brennan said: “Consumers here at home and around the world want the Yarra Valley’s amazing craft products – it’s why we’re helping local small businesses deliver this on an even bigger scale.”

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