Citrus growers speak out

FRUSTRATED Griffith citrus growers voiced their concerns about the dire state of the industry on Monday when South Australian Liberal senator Anne Ruston made a flying visit.
Nanjing Night Net

Senator Ruston, who is a horticulturalist from the Riverland region, was in Griffith to talk to growers and other stakeholders about the outcomes they want to see from the upcoming senate inquiry into the citrus industry.

“Citrus industry stakeholders from the Riverina have made the largest number of submissions to the Senate inquiry,” Senator Ruston said.

“Clearly there is a lot of people concerned about the future of the industry so we decided to come out and see first-hand.

“The citrus industry in the Riverina and across Australia has been going through very difficult times.

“Following the drought, the industry is now dealing with a loss of export markets, a high Australian dollar, excessive compliance costs and government regulation, fruit fly and other biosecurity threats.

“It’s a fantastic industry but the burdens from compliance and not being able to compete fairly with products from overseas makes it difficult.

“We need to make sure they are able to compete in a fair marketplace.”

Senator Ruston said the primary aim in establishing the inquiry by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee was to give growers and other stakeholders a forum to openly discuss the problems faced by the industry, and potential solutions.

“Some factors impacting the industry are effectively outside the control of the industry or governments,” she said.

“However, there are others that industry and governments can influence.

“I’m confident the citrus industry in Australia has the capacity and the people to develop and implement effective solutions, and the committee will be keen to hear about these.”

Riverina Citrus Growers Inc president Bart Brighenti was among the local growers who shared their concerns with the senator.

“We are telling her the issues not only specific to us but the whole industry,” Mr Brighenti said.

“It all affects financial returns for growers in this region.

“The largest horticulture export crop is being decimated and it has nothing to do with efficiency or what we do on the farm.

“Our issues are all coming out of decisions being made in Canberra.

“Fruit fly is high on our agenda and the costs incurred directly as a result for export. Also issues with imports not meeting our standard such as the use of Carbendazim.”

Senator Ruston will be back for the public hearing in Griffith on July 3.

FACT FINDING: Liberal senator from South Australia Anne Ruston talks to local citrus growers Phillip Blacker, Bart Brighenti and Frank Battistel about the state of the industry and what can be done to fix it.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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