The destruction of unwanted stone fruit trees in Victoria’s troubled Goulburn Valley region has began.
The Victorian Farmers Federation president, Peter Tuohey was asked by Cobram property owner Tom Bisogni, to help clear about 850 plum trees from his land to avoid attracting vermin and disease to the area.
While the VFF president was happy to help remove the trees, he said that more resources are needed to ensure the job is done properly, The Weekly Times Now reports.
"Ideally we need fuel, front-end loaders, excavators and drivers to help out," he said.
Bisogni was one of some 170 Goulburn Valley growers that were informed by SPC Ardmona earlier this year that after May 1, the company will no longer be accepting their fruit.
SPC Ardmona said that an influx in cheap imports, the high exchange rate and a decline in export markets forced the decision to discontinue contracts with the growers.
Supermarket giant Woolworths recently announced that it has committed to stocking only Australian grown produce in its private label tinned fruit lines. The announcement has served as positive news for some growers, however the deal is only expected to save 50,000 trees which is a far cry from the 750,000 trees that are expected to be destroyed.
Orchardists in the region have called upon Coles to follow Woolworths’ lead by committing to source only Australian fruit. A representative from Coles, Julia Balderstone said that the supermarket has a strong track record of supporting SPC Ardmona’s products, including Goulburn Valley fruit, but did not comment on whether the supermarket had plans to exclusively source Australian fruit in the future.
"Approximately 80 per cent of Coles brand tinned fruit including peaches, pears, and apricots comes from the Goulburn Valley," she said.
"We will continue to work with SPC Ardmona to drive product sales and explore new opportunities for Goulburn Valley fruit."