Grant supports artisan producers

Member for Northern Victoria and Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes with McIvor Farm Foods owners Belinda and Jason Hagan.

By Jackson Russell

Tooborac pork producer McIvor Farm Foods will soon be able to expand its product range with the help of a State Government’s Small Scale and Craft grant.

McIvor Farm Foods owners Belinda and Jason Hagan recently built an on-farm butchering facility to keep more production local, and plan to use their grant to invest in a smoking and cooking facility.

The improved facilities will increase the range of products the free-range farmers are able to produce on-site, create opportunities for other small-scale producers and support local jobs.

The project is part of McIvor Farm Foods’ aspirations to turn the farm into a culinary tourism destination by offering workshops on sausage-making and butchering.

Ms Hagan estimated the grant would allow them to build the new cooking and smoking facility in just six to nine months rather than two years.

“We’re pretty excited and very grateful to the State Government for its support and recognition. I think for the first 10 years we operated, there wasn’t much recognition for small producers, so it’s good the government recognises our contribution and invests back into our area,” she said.

“We’ll be doing our own bacon and ham here, we currently have someone in Melbourne doing that for us, and we’ll look at expanding into terrines and broths, possibly frankfurts and kranskies, and maybe some more prepared meal ideas depending on what the customer base requires, like sausage rolls or british pork pies.”

Ms Hagan said the new products would allow McIvor Farm Foods to use parts of the pig that are currently classified as waste, reduce packaging and food miles, and increase employment.

“When we send stuff to Melbourne, it all has to be packaged but if we produce here, we cut down on packaging so there’s been some added benefits of the proposal,” she said.

“As we grow, we’ll be looking at employing more people and the other opportunity will be to support other small producers, particularly meat products so we’ll look at contract smoking and collaborating with producers we know and utilising our facilities to help them grow as well.”

Member for Northern Victoria and Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes said central Victoria thrived thanks to the many small-scale and craft producers in the region.

“It makes sense to help them grow and reach even more customers with their fantastic produce,” she said.

“Regional Victoria will be crucial in leading our state’s economic recovery – our fantastic small-scale and craft sector will be at the forefront of our revised tourism and hospitality sectors.”