THE Victorian Farmers Federation has recorded a $220,000 operating surplus, the group's AGM in Bendigo heard today.
VFF finance spokesman David Beatty said the organisation was in a "strong and solid position" but needed to focus on drawing in new members to boost its financial position.
The VFF needed to increase its income, build value to members and better communicate internally and externally as part of a growth strategy, according to the federation's chief executive officer Graeme Ford.
Federal agriculture minister Joe Ludwig opened the conference.
The Minister spoke in broad terms about the challenges facing agriculture and encouraged the sector to "talk up" their positives.
In question time farmers asked the Minister about the impact of the Murray Darling Basin Plan on communities and irrigation.
One farmer said it would render rural communities and irrigation unviable.
Mr Ludwig's response was that he was supportive of the plan.
Other farmers attacked Labor and Green policies, while another asked the Minister to look into the threat of animal activist terrorists deliberately smuggling foot and mouth disease into the country to harm agriculture.
Mr Ludwig said he should report any such threats to the authorities.
He also told farmers that foreign investment had helped build regional and rural communities and was needed to continue to help agriculture maintain its global competitiveness.
Meanwhile, during the United Dairyfarmers Victoria AGM before the VFF AGM there was heated debate over the VFF's use of the dairy group's $1.3 million quarantine fund.
Many UDV members spoke against the process that led to the fund being dissolved and a resolution was passed to condemn the VFF board over its handling of the issue.
This is despite outgoing VFF president Andrew Broad explaining to the UDV that the fund was needed to write-off budget deficits and to put the VFF in a stronger position.
The UDV also voted to support a restructure of the industry peak national council, Australian Dairy Farmers.
This was following heated debate and, at times, personal attacks on UDV members within the meeting.
Likewise, during the VFF Livestock group AGM, Cattle Council of Australia - that industry's peak council - gave a presentation about its proposed restructure.
The VFF conference heard repeatedly that more farmers needed to sign up to become members of their farmer representation bodies, or risk losing their voice with governments.
CCA executive officer David Inall said CCA needed more funds and he flagged that CCA may call for part of the cattle transaction levy to be allocated for policy and lobby work conducted by the peak council.
CCA currently gets most of its funding for state farmer organisations like the VFF.
During the Livestock group conference Dookie farmer Ian Feldtmann was appointed VFF Livestock president and Harrow wool grower Michael Craig was voted in as vice president.
A resolution to support mandatory introduction of electronic sheep tags was also "laid on the table" until next year's conference after an indecisive vote.
Tomorrow afternoon the new president of the VFF will be announced. In the running are Chris Nixon from Orbost, Meg Parkinson from Fish Creek and Pyramid Hill's Peter Tuohey.