Six commodity groups will be represented under a new horticulture council launched by Australia’s National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).
The Australian Blueberry Growers' Association, Ausveg, Apple and Pear Australia (APAL), Dried Fruits Australia, the Voice of Horticulture (representing their 21 members) and Summerfruits Australia have all thrown their support behind the new council, as have state-based associations such as the Victorian Farmers Federation, NSW Farmers and Queensland-based Growcom.
NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said the move would help ensure horticulture had a stronger, more united voice at federal government level.
“This dedicated, united and tailored body representing the best interests of Australia’s A$11bn production and ornamental horticulture sectors, is essential if we are to continue to grow Australia’s horticulture industries into the future,” he explained.
“The new Horticulture Council will build upon the existing work of the NFF as we continue to advocate for the best interests of all Australia’s farmers."
While Mahar said recent free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea meant international demand for Australian fresh produce was at a record high, the sector’s rapid growth came with additional policy considerations and industry challenges.
He added that many of the policy issues impacting horticulture were the same as those in other agricultural industries, including trade and market access, biosecurity, infrastructure, workplace relations and digital technology adoption.
Through the horticulture council, Mahar said the NFF would provide a more “direct and deeper understanding” of these issues and draw on the knowledge of those it represents when it comes to deciding how to solve key challenges.
“The NFF remains firmly of the view that there is real power in a unified approach,” he explained. "Being able to join together to advocate as a united front will deliver real gains for the sector and for agriculture in general.”
APAL chief executive Phil Turnbull said the the new council would deliver apple and pear growers access to the skills, network and knowledge of the NFF and the other commodity groups, delivering the best and fastest outcomes for its grower-members.
“Horticulture is a very diverse industry with wide-ranging needs and priorities,” he said. “But many of the issues facing farmers and growers are similar, and addressing these challenges together is more likely to deliver sustainable solutions.
“Our priority will always be to best represent apple and pear growers, but where our interests intersect with those of other horticultural interests, a unified voice is clearer, stronger and more effective.”