VFF President David Jochinke said the federation’s board came to an agreement with Mr Ford that he would step down as chief executive, after more than six years in the role.
The decision reflects the board’s intention to seek a new approach in the face of the prevailing challenges facing Victorian farmers, Mr Jochinke said.
The move follows months of tension between the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria and the VFF leadership over resources and policy direction.
However, The Weekly Times understands other livestock groups have joined the UDV in voicing their concerns in recent weeks, which has culminated in Mr Ford agreeing to step down.
Mr Jochinke said Mr Ford provided “extraordinary service to the VFF and its members” throughout a distinguished 20 year career with the organisation.
“Graeme has been part of the VFF for more than two decades and has helped shape the
organisation during that time,” Mr Jochinke said.
“He helped 16,000 farmers prepare for the introduction of GST by running an education program in 2000, led the VFF’s disaster relief responses in 2002-3, 2006 and 2009 and he put together a
coalition of rural organisations to develop the mental health program Look Over the Farm Gate.”
Mr Ford also worked with the VFF Chicken Meat Group to gain collective bargaining arrangements for the industry, while as policy manager he oversaw the federation’s lobbying efforts from 2005 to 2011.
Some of the key issues addressed in this time included the removal of the moratorium on
genetically modified canola, the removal of the fire service levy from insurance premiums, the
Murray Darling Basin Plan, the reform of drought support measures and funding for infrastructure.
“The board has identified that the way forward calls for a need to leverage more from the
commercial aspects of the VFF’s operations while continuing to drive key policy initiatives on behalf of the membership and the broader agricultural sector,” Mr Jochinke said.
“In considering these priorities, and taking into account the difficulties facing Victorian farmers, the VFF board has come to the view that a fresh approach would be in the best interests of members as we seek to navigate the challenging industry environment and take the organisation to the next level.”
The VFF will commence a recruitment process for a new chief executive, which is expected to take several months.
VFF policy director Simon Arcus will serve as acting chief executive in the interim, and will work with Mr Ford on an orderly transition pending his departure.
Source: The Weekly Times