Grower groups get new voice

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

New industry body HorticultureWA, which incorporates all horticultural grower groups, is gearing up to tackle industry issues head on.

From water to landcare, issues that affect all aspects of the fruit and veg world can now be tackled together.

VegetablesWA chief executive Jim Turley, who is on the board, said everyone who was a member of any horticultural grower group, such as Fruit West and PotatoesWA, would automatically be a member of HorticultureWA.

“Every grower in the fruit and vegetable industry, wine industry, nursery association, turf growers and bee keepers are a part of the group, ” he said.

FruitWest executive manager Gavin Foord said he was looking forward to working closer with other groups to get a better result for the industry.

“Water security, truth in labelling and sustainability are three of the common issues we are tackling on a united front, ” he said.

Busselton vegetable grower Darryl Smith, who is acting chairman, said the group was a great way to collaborate efforts in things that affect the whole industry.

“It’s interesting to try to combine some resources rather than having 10 people doing the same job, ” he said.

“With this collaboration, hopefully we will have a bigger voice and stronger lobbying power to get things done.”

The third generation farmer produces beef, sheep and potatoes on 492 hectares and is president of PotatoesWA.

With his wife, Tania, they produce about 2700 tonnes of potatoes each year including Nadine, Royal Blue, Ruby Lou, Kipfler and Rodeo and for the Smith’s Snackfood Company a variety called Fl1867.

The potatoes are for the fresh, seed and processing markets — 70 per cent, 5 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

Fresh spuds go to the domestic market, those for processing to Smith’s Snackfood and the seed ones to local and interstate growers.

Mr Smith has always grown potatoes and said the industry was a great one to be a part of.

“I think the regulated potato industry is just sensational, ” he said.

“They have regulated the supply to meet demand which protects us from supermarkets price cutting and gluts.

“The potato industry is constantly being improved.”

Mr Smith has been with PotatoesWA for six years and is on the Potato Marketing Corporation board.

“I think water is the biggest issue at the moment, followed by food security and labelling, ” he said.

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