Fruitgrowing body heads have welcomed the Victorian Government’s investment in the Goulburn Valley industry, but some say immediate problems should be addressed first.TONI BRIENT March 12, 2014 4:05am
Fruitgrowing body heads have welcomed the Victorian Government’s investment in the Goulburn Valley industry, with one saying the government should be more concerned with saving the sector before growing it.
The $55 million investment portfolio announced last week included a 15-year strategic plan for fruit production and processing in the region, a $16 million concessional loans scheme, a horticulture Centre for Excellence and a trade strategy to secure a supply chain on Asian markets.
Victorian Peach and Apricot Growers Association president Tony Latina said the government needed to focus on helping struggling farmers rather than big-ticket items like free trade agreements.
‘‘When the government puts money into agriculture, it’s a good thing,’’ Mr Latina said. ‘‘However, they’re not doing anything to help growers in financial difficulty.
‘‘It’s good they’re trying to encourage exports, but if growers are not viable they can’t expand.’’
He highlighted the concessional loans scheme as an example some farmers were being left behind.
‘‘They’re only helping viable growers who are well off and can afford to buy out their next door neighbour,’’ he said.
When asked whether he thought the government’s strategic plan and Centre for Excellence would help struggling farmers, Mr Latina said the money would better be spent on initiatives such as eradicating fruit fly.
Cobram Fruitgrowers Association president Frank Diaco said many Cobram and district growers were doing it tough, but the government’s new initiatives signalled ‘‘a step to solving the problem’’.
‘‘It looks like (the government is) getting proactive now in trying to support growers,’’ Mr Diaco said.
‘‘There’s a lot of detail still to come out of all these other things, but at least the government is listening to growers and trying to do something.
‘‘I think it has come too late, obviously, to be good for some people still in the industry — it’s a pity that the government as well as the (SPC Ardmona) cannery weren’t a bit more proactive.’’
Mr Latina echoed Mr Diaco’s question of timing, saying the government should have intervened last year when SPC Ardmona cut the supply contracts of farmers across the region.
Mr Latina was one of many Cobram farmers forced to pull thousands of trees after his contract was cut.
‘‘When it all boils down to it, growers doing it really tough don’t get any help,’’ he said.
‘‘There was no assistance to remove trees.
‘‘Growers had to bear the cost themselves.’’
Last week’s announcements followed the government’s $22 million co-investment at SPC Ardmona last month.
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan yesterday said the government’s position was ‘‘vindicated’’ by SPC’s $70 million deal with Woolworths.
The redevelopment of Shepparton Library, which will feature accessible shelving, a teen-specific area, a Skype booth and internet-enabled work stations, will be completed in the next two months.
The Ovens & Murray qualifying final between Yarrawonga and Lavington on Saturday left spectators talking more about the standard of umpiring than the two competing teams.
Greater Shepparton City Council was successful in securing the National Cutting Horse Association Victorian Futurity Cutting Horse Championships for 2014 and 2015, with this year’s event scheduled from September 10-14 at Tatura Park.
The Kiss Angels, 50 Shades of Hope team have come up with a creative way of fundraising for the Relay for Life, a purple potty.
District hotels and businesses may change rosters with penalty rates for casual employees on Sundays set to be cut.
Students visit local businesses for reading lessons
Bottle thrown at Jason Cole in bitter aftermath to Seymour-Benalla game on Saturday.
A truck driver is lucky to be alive after crashing into a Jerilderie home yesterday morning.
Chef and co-owner of Heathcote’s Willow Room Brent Loam is thrilled with the listing in the 2015 Age Good Food Guide
Cobram kids learn about health with hospital as state-wide obesity campaign is launched.
Murray Irrigation to search for new boss after Anthony Couroupis finishes with the company.
A few anxious customers were outside the closed gates of the failed Bee-Jay Machinery business on Goulburn Valley Hwy in Shepparton on Tuesday morning, wondering what would become of deposits they had paid for tractors and other machinery.
A sophisticated hydroponic cannabis system was discovered by police at the Victoria Hotel last week.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.