South Australia to set up citrus growers' association

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South Australia to set up citrus growers' association

South Australia will have a single citrus growers' trade organization to represent the AUD$348 million (US$348.6 million) sector, the state's agriculture minister Gail Gago announced today.

Gago said the industry needed a strong united voice and one body to work for the interest of citrus in South Australia.

"The Government has been forced to step in to create this new body, after a period of division and disunity in the industry," she said.

"The new body, the South Australia Regional Advisory Committee (SARAC), will be established as the regional arm of Citrus Australia Limited (CAL). It will also improve representation of growers and help reduce red tape."

Ms Gago, who established the SA Citrus Industry Transition Working Party late last year, announced the recommendations at meetings with citrus growers in Loxton and Ramco today.

In addition, working Party Chair Hon Neil Andrew will host meetings in Renmark and Mypolonga on May 12.

"I know industry has been awaiting an announcement and we are all keen to move forward," Ms Gago said.

"This decision has not been made lightly, which is why I established the Working Party to partner with industry to recommend the best way forward to transition to one new progressive structure."

She said she had met with Andrew and accepted the Working Party’s recommendations, which would be discussed with industry at regional meetings today and tomorrow.

"Instead of two bodies and two levies, a single body will be created to represent this important industry and advocate for it through the CAL forum. A significant reduction in the levy is being proposed.

"SARAC will be funded by the Citrus Growers Fund, under the Primary Industries Funding Scheme 1998, with the cost to citrus growers to be reduced by up to 75%.

"The contribution rate for growers will be set at AUD$1 (US$1) per tonne of citrus produced - a saving of AUD$2.85 (US$2.86) per tonne for oranges and  AUD$1.85 (US$1.85) per tonne for other citrus, such as lemons and mandarins.

"Appointment to SARAC will be transparent, with membership to be skills and knowledge based so it can link with the citrus value chain," she said.

Andrew is to chair a selection committee to establish the inaugural SARAC. The committee will consist of people nominated by the SA Citrus Industry Development Board, and the Citrus Growers of South Australia, as well as a Citrus Australia representative.

"I ask industry to be patient and cooperative over the coming months, as completing the transition will take time and legislative changes need to be made to get SARAC up and running,"  Andrew said.

"This is a great opportunity for the citrus industry to come together to help promote the South Australian industry and to give a single advocate for the industry to consumers, government and industry."

Reforms included to make way for the new trade body include repealing the Citrus Industry Act 2005 and winding up South Australian Citrus Industry Development Board.

It is likely the Citrus Growers SA (CGSA) will voluntarily cease operations. The Primary Industries Funding Schemes (Citrus Growers Fund) Regulations 2005 will also be amended.

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