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 Bureau of Meteorology has released a severe weather warning for regions that include Shepparton. It includes damaging winds and the potential for flash flooding.
Pete O’Neill and Abby Hicks are national champions at the completion of the 2015 Australian Barefoot Championships held last week.
GVAC women Rachel Pratt and Jacquie Fitzpatrick showed the men, and the large crowd at Rushworth Speedway on Saturday, March 28, they have what it takes when competing in the men’s classes.
Two international backpackers have taken aim at contractors who hired them to pick fruit in the region without payment.
Rochester boxing coach Chris Trewin and his team of dedicated trainers have been hitting the bag for more than six months and the results are beginning to show.
Local MP calls for community applications
A special event will take place at Pioneer Park on Sunday.
Jerilderie's born and bred Madeleine Harris has been recognised for her banking and finance career
Concerned Costerfield residents had the chance to voice their antimony health concerns last week after an independent facilitator was appointed.
Strathmerton clinched a win in the high-scoring game against Mathoura on the weekend in the PDFL North West competition.
Deniliquin swimming dynamo Stephen Dalzell has finished 13th overall in his preferred event at the Australian Age Championships.
Murray Goulburn Co-operative has set a date for a special meeting to vote on a new capital structure.
Emergency services are on scene of a two-car crash on the Midland Hwy, near Benalla. Two people have died. Traffic is being diverted.
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.