Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today launched a 15-year plan for the Goulburn Valley fruit industry, focused on opening up new export markets and helping fruit businesses to diversify and expand.
“The Goulburn Valley Fruit Industry Growing Roadmap will underpin the future success of the Goulburn Valley fruit industry, including a new horticulture Centre of Excellence, a $16 million concessional loans package and business planning program,” Mr Walsh said.
The Roadmap was released alongside the Goulburn Valley Industry and Employment Plan which was launched by Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and the Member for Shepparton Jeanette Powell.
“The Victorian Coalition Government recognises the importance of the Goulburn Valley’s fruit industry – which currently produces 90 per cent of Australia’s processed fruit. Horticulture contributes to 30 per cent of the region’s value of agricultural production, compared with 31 per cent for dairy,” Mr Walsh said.
“We have already acted to help secure a long-term future for SPC Ardmona and the Roadmap will now ensure that Goulburn Valley fruit growing businesses have clear direction moving forward.”
Mr Walsh said the new Horticulture Centre of Excellence in Tatura would host new roles of Principal Scientist, Business Development Manager and Industry Development Officer.
“Our scientists will undertake leading horticulture research and development focusing on consumers trends in Asia – a fast-growing export market for the industry,” Mr Walsh said.
“A total of $170 million worth of Victorian horticulture was exported to North Asia in 2012/13, a 30 per cent increase on the previous year, which confirms we should all continue to have confidence in this industry.
“The Centre of Excellence will also act as a regional hub for horticulture industry development, and will help improve coordination between growers and governments as we tackle issues such as expanding market access.
“The Coalition Government is committed to assisting Goulburn Valley stone and pome fruit growers take advantage of emerging export and domestic opportunities,” Mr Walsh said.
Concessional loans will be offered to support farm businesses who purchase the properties of fruit growers affected by the recent downturn. The loans will be offered from 1 July 2014 by Rural Finance Corporation at a concessional rate of 4.5 per cent over three years.
To read the Goulburn Valley Fruit Industry Growing Roadmap go to www.depi.vic.gov.au/gvroadmap
For enquiries about the Goulburn Valley Concessional Loans program contact the Rural Finance Corporation on 1800 260 425 or go to www.ruralfinance.com.au/