IMPROVING the image of farming in a bid to attract young people to the industry is on the state government's agenda, Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh says.
Mr Walsh said a number of projects including $61 million Growing Food and Fibre initiative and a restructuring of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) are in the pipeline in order to renew the state's agricultural output.
"If we want to attract new farmers in Victoria, we need to talk up agriculture as the rewarding and profitable industry it is," he said.
"A recent report into the issue from the Victorian Parliament's Rural and Regional Committee found that "agriculture's ability to attract and retain young people in rural Victoria is greatly impeded by its negative image".
"We must all work together to change this."
His comments come after The Standard revealed last week that only two per cent of south-west school leavers from the class of 2011 chose to either enter agricultural employment or study.
More than 61 per cent chose to head into university study although many deferred, while others headed into vocational training, apprenticeships or are still looking for work.
South-west statistics reflect recent findings by a state government-ordered committee which found the number of school leavers and university graduates heading into agriculture was at a record low.
"Victoria increased the value of its farm exports to a record $8.68 billion in 2011 (which represents) a rise of 17 per cent and Victoria accounts for 28 per cent of all farm exports from Australia," Mr Walsh said.
"The DPI is also in the process of placing a greater focus on its core business to efficiently and effectively provide world-class research and development, to provide the building blocks for food and fibre producers to increase their productivity."