Horticulture Taskforce up and running: Members meet in Melbourne and outline key issues
The Horticulture Taskforce (HTF) has held its first meeting with Chief Executive Officers from major horticultural organisations, which form the management committee, coming together in Melbourne on Tuesday 28 September.
The Horticulture Taskforce (HTF) was established following the closure of Horticulture Australia Council earlier this year.
CEO of Apple and Pear Australia and Chair of the Taskforce, Tony Russell said “the Taskforce is now getting on with the job of representing the Australian Horticulture industry.”
“This body will represent all of horticulture and give it the voice that has recently been missing,” Mr Russell said.
“Horticulture employs around one-third of those employed 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,” he said.
Horticulture is the second-largest and the fastest growing industry in agriculture, supporting around 30,000 businesses nationally, and with a farm-gate value of $9 billion. Total horticulture exports (including fresh fruit, vegetable, nuts and plants including flowers) were $751million in the 12 months to May 2008.
“It was resolved at the meeting that the HTF will seek a meeting with new Agriculture Minister, Senator the Hon. 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.”
“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,” Mr Russell said.
“There were many issues of concern expressed at the meeting. Key issues including improving truth in labeling 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.”
Mr Russell added that the HTF has had strong backing from across the industry and a lobbyist will soon be engaged to represent the interests of the industry in Canberra.
“Industrial relations, and the continued confusion regarding the Horticulture Industry Award, was considered to be the key concern of the group and the HTF is now seeking funds from its Members to put towards a fighting fund,” he said.
Represented at the management meeting were AUSVEG, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, Citrus Australia, Apple and Pear Australia, Nursery & Garden Industry Australia and Cherry Growers of Australia.
The next meeting of all members of the HTF will be held on Thursday November 25 in Sydney.
Other Members of the HTF including Avocados Australia, the Biological Farmers of Australia, Strawberries Australia, Australian Rubus Growers Association, Summerfruit Australia, the Australian Mango Industry Association and the Australian Passionfruit Industry Association will also be invited for their input on key issues facing the industry at this meeting.
MEDIA CONTACT: Tony Russell, Chair, Horticulture Taskforce
Phone: (03) 9329 3511, Mobile: 0419 890 669, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org