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Be aware of the threat to farmgates, Hawkes Farm tells voters

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Hawkes Farm has urged voters in this month’s Mornington Peninsula Shire Council election to “research your councillors” over the future of the region’s farmgates. “Of course, we’re not going to tell you who to vote for, but we would like to make sure that you’re aware of the current threat,” Hawkes Farm says in a statement. 
“The current rules, set in the 1970s, are very restrictive around what farmgates can sell, and consequently Mornington Peninsula Shire have been investigating and prosecuting some farmgates. 
“As it should be, the primary motivator for shopping at farmgates has always been to access locally grown produce. But small-scale agricultural businesses – such as Hawkes – are also punching well above their weight when it comes to creating local jobs and supporting the local economy. Indeed, Mornington Peninsula’s four largest farmgates employ over 100 people and support more than 80 local small farms. It’s estimated that businesses like ours provide up to three times the amount of local economic activity than a local supermarket.
“During COVID-19, farmgates have provided a lifeline to many local farmers whose markets have been critically reduced by the closure of restaurants. The majority of farms on the Mornington Peninsula are too small to run their own farmgate, to supply supermarkets, to supply Melbourne Wholesale Market, or even to attend farmers’ markets. Without farmgates, they would not have an outlet for their produce. 
“The Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is currently undertaking a Strategic Agricultural Land Review of Green Wedge Land, including reviewing farmgate regulations.  Please get behind the newly formed Mornington Peninsula Farms & Farm Gates Inc and please research your councillors so that you can make an informed choice when you vote. Many candidates are saying they want to protect the Green Wedge, but it’s important to understand exactly what they mean.”

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