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.
Coca-Cola Amatil has confirmed it will be pressing on with its $100 million redevelopment of SPC Ardmona.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
A snake was spotted this afternoon.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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