Fruit Growers Tasmania has welcomed the announcement by the Tasmanian Liberal Party to increase investments in Tasmania’s agricultural sector and strengthen its resilience against external pests and diseases.
“We welcome the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s commitment to invest $10.2M in strengthening the state’s agricultural sector from exotics pests, diseases and other threats” Fruit Growers Tasmania’s CEO Peter Cornish said.
“Tasmanian agricultural businesses rely heavily on the state’s pest and disease free status to access interstate and international markets for their products. The 2018 Queensland fruit fly incursion was a timely reminder for our state of the importance of remaining vigilant when it comes to biosecurity, with the cost of that incursion costing more than $15 million in direct clean-up costs and much more in terms of physical, mental and financial stress for growers caught up in it.”
“The $2.3M commitment to additional biosecurity officers to ensure the proper assessment and management of these risks is vital to protect investment, trade, jobs and growth in the fruit industry. The $500,000 in funding for FGT will allow us to continue our work with growers and the community to improve biosecurity awareness and preparedness”, Mr Cornish said.
“As an industry, we recognise that sometimes it is landowners, their staff and members of the community who are the first to notice and report unknown plants, insects or unusual disease symptoms on properties.”
Continued investment in water
FGT also welcomes the commitment of a further $30M to support irrigation development and regional water security in the state. “The fruit industry is growing and this growth depends on irrigation. Converting extensive agriculture into intensive crops like fruit growing brings investment and jobs. The fruit industry is amongst the fastest growing industries in agriculture and its continued expansion is essential if the state is to achieve the targeted $10 billion in farmgate value by 2050”.
Funding for business development
FGT also welcomes the Tasmanian Liberal Party’s continued commitment to the AgriGrowth Loans Scheme, which supports primary producers to develop and grow their businesses.
“Loan programs like these provide smaller businesses and start-ups with access to capital to take advantage of new opportunities grow and sell more product, create jobs for more Tasmanians. They generate investment and economic activity in regional areas and are an important link on the pathway to obtaining finance on commercial terms.”
Agricultural Research Investment
FGT also supports the commitment to further investment in Research, Development and even more importantly Extension and Demonstration.
“With the proposed centralisation of agricultural research and development in Launceston, it becomes critical that industries and producers located in other regions do not become disconnected from the state’s researchers.
“Extension is often seen as the unglamorous part of R&D, but it is absolutely critical in achieving industry adoption and tangible outcomes from public R&D investments. Under the proposed precinct model, public research outstations including Grove, could have a critical new role as a regional outstation and hubs for sharing knowledge, demonstrating new and emerging technologies, and driving research adoption.
“We applaud the Tasmanian Liberal Party for their commitment in supporting and investing in this often-overlooked aspect of converting R&D to commercial reality, which we expect to return great dividends for our industry and our state.”
Investing in Safety
As an industry, Tasmania’s fruit growers have also welcomed the proposed $2M commitment to provide cash-back rebates for implemented safety measure which reduce the risk and severity of workplace incidents.
FGT has also welcomed the proposed funding extension for the Safe Farming Tasmania program. “The program has been successful in improving safety awareness and outcomes on farms across Tasmania.
“Growers across the state really appreciated visits by Safe Farming Tasmania representatives, who were able to provide tailored safety advice and guidance which helped them manage and respond to the risks created by the pandemic.”