The Andrews Labor Government will lead a pilot program to improve market access for temperate fruit exports, such as apples, pears, stone fruits, grapes and cherries, to China and Thailand.
The pilot program was endorsed in last Friday’s meeting of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) in Sydney, by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, and other state and territory Agriculture Ministers.
This follows the Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, calling on the Federal Government to do more to support Victoria’s horticulture industry to improve access to new markets and overcome barriers to trade.
Victoria’s $2.4 billion horticulture industry employs more than 9000 people and accounts for more than half of Australia’s horticulture exports, worth $894 million.
The pilot program is in addition to the $5.2 million provided in the recent 2015-16 Victorian Budget to establish a specialised trade unit to support trade negotiations and address trade barriers.
AGMIN Forum Ministers also endorsed a strategy to boost agricultural export opportunities, with a focus on driving positive outcomes and promoting Australia as a professional, organised and reliable trading partner.
Ms Pulford also joined other states and territories to express Victoria’s concerns about the eligibility criteria of the Federal Government’s drought concessional loans during the Forum.
As a result it was agreed further consideration would be given to proposals from states and territories in regards to eligibility criteria to ensure farmers doing it tough have access to the financial support they need.
Ministers also received an update on the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats, and noted the need for a consistent approach to farm trespass to maintain the integrity of the biosecurity system.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford
“With Victoria’s horticulture industry accounting for more than half of Australia’s horticulture exports, it is critical that we continue to advocate for the interests of our thriving industry at a national level.”
“I’m pleased to see the Federal Government and other state and territories acknowledge Victoria’s expertise in this industry by endorsing the Andrews Labor Government to lead the new temperate fruit export pilot program.”
“We will also continue to lobby the Federal Government on behalf of Victorian farmers to resolve issues around drought loan eligibility – we don’t want to see farmers who need this help miss out.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020