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Multi-million program to net improved apple and pear productivity

Industry Advocacy
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APAL CEO Phil Turnbull and Damien Drum MP met with Victorian grower representatives to announce the program.

Apple and pear growers in Victoria and SA will soon be able to access funds to install new or replace damaged netting, as part of a broader federal government injection to support agriculture.

Speaking from Plunkett Orchard in the Goulburn Valley, APAL CEO, Phil Turnbull welcomed the news: “This is the kind of positive and practical assistance from government that will meaningfully assist growers protect their crop – and their livelihood.”

With less than 40 per cent of crops currently under net, Turnbull noted: “The apple and pear industry is worth over $632 million per annum to the national economy, but rely on very specific seasonal timings, and ill-time weather events or pest strikes can spoil an entire year’s crop in a matter of hours.”

Committing $14.6m to the trial in South Australia, and $4m in Victoria, the Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie has said: “It’s a vital investment in the Australian Government’s work to grow the value of horticulture production and lift the value of agriculture to $100 billion by 2030.”

“Netting is the only real solution for providing shade and protection against hail or frost. Netting also serves as a humane deterrent against flying foxes and birds, and can reduce an orchard’s water requirements by up to 20 per cent through reduced evaporation,” said Turnbull.

“Most orchards in our industry are small, family-owned businesses which limits their ability to access capital to invest in netting,” said Turnbull, “At $60,000 per hectare, this is prohibitive to all but the largest growers.

While the scheme has been confirmed for Victoria and South Australia, APAL Government Relations spokesperson, Jeremy Griffith, said APAL is lobbying to extend the scheme to all apple and pear growing regions.

It is understood the scheme will commence in 2020 and operate until 31 December 2021 or until funds are fully committed. Eligible growers will be required to at least match the Commonwealth contribution and the trial program will be capped at $300,000 (GST exclusive) per grower.

Additional funds have been made available for South Australia who were hit particularly hard in the recent hailstorms.

Delivery arrangements are being finalised and further details will be available on the state department’s website shortly.

APAL has been lobbying for a National Netting Scheme over the past 12-months and will continue to update growers as details are made available.

For inquiries, contact APAL Head of Government Relations and Advocacy Jeremy Griffith at jgriffith@apal.org.au or call (03) 9329 3511

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