Government talks provide hope for fruit growers

Goulburn Valley orchardist Peter Hall, along with fellow fruit growers and officials from the Manufacturing Workers Union discussed the regions fruit crisis with parliamentarians in Canberra yesterday.

Following the decision to cut the supply of fruit significantly from the region earlier this year due to increased imports, SPC Ardmona has called for the implementation of emergency safeguard measures from the Federal Government to protect growers in the future as reported by the Weekly Times Now.

According to Hall, figures from the growers’ association showed that SPCA’s discontinuation of contracts with 60 growers would equate to around 1800 jobs lost. Despite this, Hall believes that the government is making progress on the issue.

"I get the sense there is some movement on it, but from a fruit growers point of view it's been very hard to get government's ear when it comes to these things in the past,'' Mr Hall said.

"We were basically told the Coalition was supportive of the measures if they fitted the WTO protocols, and the government is listening to us at the very least.

"We're still in limbo, but this is an unfolding crisis and the more discussion this opens up, from a farming perspective, the better.''

Hall believes that the downfall of major food processors Rosella and Heinz should serve as a warning to industry.

 "We want to pay good wages to workers, we don't want fruit covered in chemicals, but we need to be given this support to go on doing it. Otherwise there won't be a fruit industry here that's competitive.''

"This is an Australian industry which – despite all the challenges – has been profitable for 100 years.''


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