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One voice for Aussie growers

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Australia’s horticultural industries are closer to having one national voice after the emerging Horticulture Taskforce (HTF) held its first meeting last month.

The group was formed after the closure of the Horticulture Australia Council earlier this year.

Apple and Pear Australia chief executive and HTF chairman Tony Russell said the orgamisation was busy getting on with the job of representing growers.

“This body will represent all of horticulture and give it the voice that has recently been missing, ” Mr Russell said.

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“Horticulture employs around one-third of those in agriculture. This is one of the key industries in Australia and we would like to see it recognised as such at a political level.”

Horticulture supports about 30,000 businesses nationally and has a farmgate value of about $9 billion.

Exports for the 12 months to May 2008 were $751 million.

“It was resolved at the meeting that the HTF will seek a meeting with new Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to outline key issues of concern in the hope that industry can find solutions on behalf of the thousands of Australian producers and their families who depend on horticulture for their livelihoods, ” Mr Russell said.

“The HTF plans to identify key issues of common concern and respond to them on a case by case basis on behalf of its members.

“Key issues include improving truth in labelling laws, better protecting Australia’s biosecurity, seasonal labour shortages, water issues, resolving the Horticulture Code, ensuring Australia’s food security and better training and education for the next generation of workers.

“As a result of the meeting, the group will be making a joint submission in response to the Productivity Commission’s draft report into Rural Research and Development Corporations.

“Research and development is vital for our industry and the proposed recommendations will have far reaching consequences for our sector.

“Industrial relations and the continued confusion regarding the Horticulture Industry Award is also a key concern of the group.”

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