More than half of the Queensland Government’s AUD$1 million (US$724,830) strawberry sabotage response fund will be used for restoring consumer confidence in the category through a targeted campaign.
In an announcement today (Wednesday in Australia), the state’s Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, Mark Furner, said $600,000 (US$434,940) would be spent on the campaign.
The minister said $250,000 (US$181,250) would go towards safeguarding supply chain integrity, while $150,000 (US$108,750) would be for the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and producer advocacy group Growcom to assist growers with the ongoing response and recovery.
“This attack on our strawberry industry was cowardly, calculated and callous. But our response has been swift,” Furner said.
“In an unprecedented move, the Premier immediately put up a AUD$100,000 (US$72,500) reward for any information leading to the capture of those responsible.”
Furner said the funding would help Queensland growers bounce back from the saga and give them confidence heading into the new season.
The Palaszczuk Government has also established a ‘Queensland Strawberry Industry Back to Market Working Group’ which met yesterday for the first time.
“The working group will be a forum for discussion between the Queensland strawberry industry and the Queensland Government,” Furner said.
“Members of this group will determine the most effective strategy to restore consumer confidence and support the industry getting back to market as soon as possible.”
“Growcom and the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association would like to thank the Queensland government for their swift response to the issue and in particular for the Minister’s attendance at the grower meeting last week,” said Growcom chief advocate Mackenzie.
The value of Queensland strawberries for 2017–18 is forecast to be AUD$160 million (US$116 million).
There are approximately 100 strawberry growers in Queensland, with most production around Beerwah, Wamuran, Elimbah, Caboolture, Bundaberg and Granite Belt.