PREMIER Ted Baillieu has warned of a "tough budget" in his address to today's Victorian Farmers Federation conference in Bendigo.
The Premier said the Department of Primary Industries would "look different" in future, alluding to expected staff cuts, and signalled a greater focus on partnerships with industry to push production up and lift exports.
However he said agriculture in Victoria was well-placed to access growing food demand from Asia.
He said a "food boom" was coming and Victorian exporters needed to be ready to meet that market.
In referrence to outgoing VFF president Andrew Broad's criticism of the state government in relation to their support for young farmers, the Premier hit back.
Mr Broad has previously said the government "betrayed" rural Victoria by failing to deliver all their election promises to support young farmers.
In response to that Premier Baillieu today drew comparisons between the VFF's need to rein in spending to balance its budget with the actions of his government.
"I know Andrew values fiscal responsibility," the Premier said.
In a media conference before his address, the Premier also said that foreign investment had "built this state" and urged caution in sending messages that could deter new investors.
These comments come as the VFF conference passed a resolution calling for the foreign investment review threshold to be dropped to $5 million for new purchases, instead of the current $244 million.
In his final address as president, Mr Broad said country Victorians needed to rely more on themselves to grow rural areas and less on politicians.
And National Farmers Federation president Jock Lauire said a new foreign investment policy would soon be announced by the NFF.
Mr Laurie said one of the biggest issues facing farming was animal activists. He said professional marketers needed to be engaged to project a positive image for farming.
If agriculture failed to address these issues "more legislation" was likely to be enforced on farmers, he said.
Throughout the two-day VFF event the issue of how to attract young people into farming and to farmer lobby groups has also been a constant theme.
Meanwhile, about 14 animal welfare protestors have held a protest outside the conference. However they have not disrupted the event in anyway, depsite local media reports suggesting their influence was significant.
The VFF is expected to announce its new president about 3.30pm today.