New hub aims to help farmers

NEW TEAM: VFF membership development manager Tim McKenzie, Mick McCarthy, Kim Tupper, Rob McLoughlin, Bree Jackson, VFF president Peter Tuohey and executive manager of membership and marketing Stephen Webb.

NEW TEAM: VFF membership development manager Tim McKenzie, Mick McCarthy, Kim Tupper, Rob McLoughlin, Bree Jackson, VFF president Peter Tuohey and executive manager of membership and marketing Stephen Webb.

THE Victorian Farmers Federation has opened its new regional membership hub in Bendigo.

The hub will be home to the VFF's membership engagement team, who aim to provide meeting and training facilities for members and guests.

"We have had a new strategic plan for a while and have been trying to implement it," VFF president Peter Tuohey said.

"It aims at increasing membership as well as value to membership."

Mr Tuohey said part of the process would include more engagement with VFF members.

Previously four regional managers would work individually in different parts of the state.

"It didn't really work," Mr Tuohey said.

"It involved them sitting in offices at home, working in isolation and having to cover large distances."

The new office employs two staff on the phones to discuss issues and problems with members as well as two staff on the road visiting farmers and clients.

"We are basically trying to improve the relationship and give a really good customer-type service to our members," Mr Tuohey said.

"We're trying to change what we can do with and for the farmers."

Mr Tuohey said the other side of the new hub's plan was to improve service by providing members with products at a membership-only value.

"It gives (members) specific membership-only discounts on certain products," he said.

"The problem we find when we lobby the government for change, everybody gets the value.

"We needed to work out how to bring in people so people don't say, 'well I already get that rebate or discount'."

Mr Tuohey said the hub opening was an exciting step for the future of the VFF. 

"The VFF had to change in the way it was dealing with everything," he said.

"A lot of the structure in the VFF has been changed and we have refocused on selling ourselves.

"The Bendigo team is backed by support staff as well as our commodity and policy staff at the VFF’s Farrer House Headquarters in Melbourne to increase the level of engagement with rural communities,” he said.

The Victorian Farmers Federation regional membership hub is located at 145 View Street, Bendigo.

For more information log on to www.vff.org.au

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