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.
Organisers of the Challenge Shepparton triathlon will donate half the entry fees from entrants in the ‘community team challenge’ to the Community Fund Goulburn Valley.
Jake Thompson has an eagle eye and a steady hand and he put both to good use recently when he won the U15 Australian Snooker Championships, held in Adelaide.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
THIS year’s Winter Blues Festival is just around the corner — kicking off for the first time on a Thursday at the Star Hotel, American Hotel and Antonio’s on the Port.
ROCHESTER went sugar free for the day on Thursday for National Diabetes Week, with the inaugural Great Sugar Free Bake Off.
Elle Groves will achieve a remarkable milestone this week, in what is already a remarkable A grade netball career with Kyabram, when she steps onto the court on Saturday for her 100th game.
Local export Willie Wheeler dominating at VFL level
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
ONCE in a while some people are lucky enough to stumble across their destiny.
Moira Shire welcomed 25 new citizens on Thursday as people from across the world chose to make Australia their home.
Mathoura endured a harsh hammering to its playing confidence on Saturday with a 24-goal thrashing at the hands of Deniliquin Rovers.
SPC will abolish its internal sales team and reduce executive numbers in the latest chapter of the company’s ongoing restructuring.
The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
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.