The cross-sector organization will be headed by the National Farmers Federation (NFF) and will comprise Growcom (QLD), the Voice of Horticulture and industry associations for pome fruit, blueberries, vegetables, dried fruits, persimmons and summerfruits.
Apple and Pear Australia (APAL) CEO Phil Turnbull said the new council would deliver apple and pear growers access to the skills, network and knowledge of the NFF, described as “an established and successful policy and advocacy body”.
Cross-sector issues affecting the AUD$11 billion industry such as market access, seasonal labor, biosecurity, infrastructure, workplace relations and digital technology adoption, would now be dealt with collectively, leveraging industry-wide experience and input to deliver the best and fastest outcome for growers.
“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.
“We have worked hard to reach an agreement on unified representation and we believe the clear and cohesive voice provided by this Council offers far greater benefit to all growers than a chorus of competing and sometimes divided voices.
“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.”
In 2016-17 Australian horticulture (excluding wine grapes) had an estimated gross value of AUD$11.36 billion, ranked third behind the meat and grain industries and accounting for just under a fifth of all farm production. The combined value of apples and pears in 2015-16 was AUD$558m.
NFF CEO Tony Mahar said that “a dedicated, united and tailored body representing the best interests of Australia’s production and ornamental horticulture sectors is essential if we are to continue to grow Australia’s horticulture industries into the future”.
Mahar alsoe believed the council would also be welcomed by the government.
“The NFF remains firmly of the view that there is real power in a unified approach,” he said.
The organizations have signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form the council, agreeing that the forum was established to ‘strive for more efficient, effective, cohesive horticulture policy and advocacy at the national level’.