The international pressures on the Australian fruit industry and poor returns from domestic markets are changing the landscape across the Goulburn Valley.By Geoff Adams
The international pressures on the Australian fruit industry are changing the landscape across the Goulburn Valley.
Along the roads around Lemnos, Shepparton East, Orrvale, Tatura and Ardmona, piles of uprooted trees are either waiting for the match or already burning to the ground.
The pyres first emerged in the Murray Valley at Cobram in May, just a month after SPC Ardmona announced dramatic reductions in quotas of pears and peaches.
But the number has increased as growers do the sums and conclude they cannot afford to maintain the trees when there is no outlet for the fruit.
Former Shepparton mayor Geoff Dobson grew up in the city when orchards dominated the outskirts.
‘‘The most noticeable thing is the bare land,’’ he remarked about the flattened orchards.
‘‘It looks so out of place. People coming here expect to see fruit-laden trees.
‘‘It’s a crying shame, particularly when you know it takes a number of years for them to bear fruit and become commercially viable.
‘‘It’s not just changing the landscape, it’s changing the dynamics.’’
Mr Dobson recalled that after the last tree-pull in about 1974, newer varieties were planted and the industry bounced back.
‘‘We need as a community to look at what we could do with new land uses,’’ he said.
‘‘We need some research and development to find what we can grow now. It could be new varieties of fruit or vegetables.
‘‘It’s not up to just the council, or just the government. It’s a community challenge.
‘‘We need some entrepreneurial leadership to become more pro-active.’’
Cobram grower Tony Latina has pulled out 4500 peach and pear trees as he has lost about 70 per cent of his potential income.
‘‘There’s a lot of vacant ground around. It’s a hard thing to look at.’’
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