MINISTER BRIEFING: Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and the Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie get a briefing on the $30 million expansion of the co-operatives Ice- Cream Facility, made possible by a Federal Government investment of $15 million.
MINISTER BRIEFING: Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan and the Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie get a briefing on the $30 million expansion of the co-operatives Ice- Cream Facility, made possible by a Federal Government investment of $15 million. Marc Stapelberg

Agriculture minister gets up to speed on local projects

THE new Federal Agriculture Minister has met with farmers and producers in Lismore, ahead of an expensive National Party fundraiser.

Bridget McKenzie and Page MP Kevin Hogan visited Southern Cross University yesterday, where they were brought up to speed on the Farming Together program, which is designed to strengthen co-operatives around the country.

It was initially funded with a $13.8 million Federal Government grant and received a further $3 million after the election.

"It's exciting to see how they will set up another 70 co-operatives across the country,” Ms McKenzie said.

The pair then visited Norco to get a briefing from acting chief executive Greg McNamara on the $30 million expansion of the co-operative's ice-cream facility, made possible by a Federal Government investment of $15 million.

The project - costing $30 million in total - includes the construction of a two-storey building to accommodate the two spiral freezer tunnels, the installation of a fully automated robotic palletising system, ice cream manufacturing equipment and raw product / recovery vats.

"We all want to see more profit back at the farm gate,” Ms McKenzie said.

"We know farmers have to make a buck.”

When asked about a fundraising dinner reportedly costing many hundreds of dollars a head at a well-known Lismore restaurant, Ms McKenzie confirmed she was meeting with National Party and Liberal supporters.

"I'm meeting with a whole lot of branch members and branch supporters... I'm not sure of the details,” she said.

But she hastened to add she was holding several free meetings for farmers and producers who wanted to catch up with her while she was in town.