Berries Australia appoints new Executive Officer

Ms Rachel Mackenzie, Chief Advocate at Queensland horticulture peak body Growcom, will take up the role of Berries Australia Chief Executive in February 2019.

Berries Australia Chair Peter McPherson said the organisation was delighted to welcome Ms Mackenzie as she had many years of experience in horticulture advocacy as well as a strong track record in project management and delivery.

The Australian Blueberry Growers Association (ABGA), the Raspberry and Blackberries Association (RABA) and Strawberries Australia Inc. united in 2018 to form Berries Australia Limited.

“The berry industry is moving into a new phase and we are excited to bring in an experienced advocate to ensure the $1.1 billion industry can meet its full potential,” said Peter McPherson.

“We are focused on developing the berry category as a whole and are confident that Ms Mackenzie’s experience in representing the full breadth of horticulture production will be an asset.

Source: Freshplaza.com

Tasmania's growers looking to restore full market access after regaining Pest Free Area status

Fruit Growers Tasmania is working with its growers to fully restore international market trade back to normal levels as soon as possible, after the reinstatement of the Pest Free Area (PFA) status.

After one of the state's largest biosecurity action of its kind, the Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) Control Area and Infected Area restrictions in Northern Tasmania was lifted, after being in place for nearly 12 months.

"From our perspective, it is really good news, not unexpected news, to see our PFA status back in place for mainland Tasmania," CEO Stuart Burgess said. "Especially for the North West growers impacted, it is in the middle of the cherry season for them and they are keen and eager to get their produce from those kinds of areas back into some of their key markets. From where we sit, it was one of those processes we had to go through, but we are extremely excited to jump back into those key markets, which for some of our growers they have not been able to tap into."

While the reinstatement came into effect on January 9, Mr Burgess says, fundamentally, it is a two-step process, with the trading markets needing to recognise the status - and some are still working through the procedure.

Source: Freshplaza.com

USA: Researchers receive $2 million to study organic management of Spotted Wing Drosophila

The University of Georgia has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop organic methods of controlling the Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD). 

With the recent grant funds, the UGA-led team of researchers from multiple institutions will work to develop organic SWD management practices by evaluating new behavioral tactics, improving the effectiveness and feasibility of cultural strategies and incorporating biological control in organic SWD management. The team will also integrate new Organic Materials Review Institute-approved products into season-long IPM programs and develop an integrated outreach approach to implement organic SWD management strategies and evaluate their economic impact.

Once completed, the new organic control methods will enable organic fruit producers to integrate more behavioral, cultural and biological strategies to minimize crop losses due to SWD infestations and increase farmers’ profitability.

Source: hortidaily.com

Airboom sprayer designed for strawberries

Western Australian strawberry producer, T&L Produce Marketing, recently utilised Silvan Australia to develop an air-assist spray solution for its 40 hectare farm at Gingin, north of Perth.  

Silvan’s WA account manager Nick Dicembre said the challenge was to come up with a design that gave multi-row spray coverage while still ensuring close coverage of the strawberry plants by getting under the plastic row tunnels that are lifted up for spraying purposes.

“The Silvan research and development team at our head office in Melbourne came up with the solution that meets the growers needs” he said. 

Western Australian strawberry producer, T&L Produce Marketing,  recently utilised Silvan Australia to develop an air-assist spray  solution for its 40 hectare farm at Gingin, north of Perth.    Photo source: Queensland Country Life

Western Australian strawberry producer, T&L Produce Marketing, recently utilised Silvan Australia to develop an air-assist spray solution for its 40 hectare farm at Gingin, north of Perth.

Photo source: Queensland Country Life

Mr Dicembre said the sprayer features a twelve-metre boom that covers seven rows of strawberries with the pto sprayer operated at a tractor ground speed of four to five kilometres an hour.

Other design features included a 1100 litre Polytuff tank and the use of a Nobili Airboom spray unit as an air assist sprayer.

“Silvan had earlier developed a similar width boom sprayer for a Queensland strawberry grower so this one is the second of its build type and the first application of this technology in a row cop situation in Western Australia,” he said. 

Source: Queensland Country Life

States and territories in deadlock over fruit fly agreement

Despite several states experiencing millions of dollars in expenses as a result of fruit fly this year, state and territory governments are yet commit to a federal management strategy for the pest. In November the Federal Government pledged $16.9 million to deliver high-tech fruit fly management across Australia as part of Smart Fruit Fly Management measure.

Stakeholders in South Australia are calling on the eastern states to commit to the Federal Government's $16.9 million fruit fly strategy.  Photo Credit: ABC Open: Sonya Gee

Stakeholders in South Australia are calling on the eastern states to commit to the Federal Government's $16.9 million fruit fly strategy.

Photo Credit: ABC Open: Sonya Gee

States and territories were to sign up to the package with intergovernmental agreement and contribute additional funding. Federal member for Barker in South Australia, Tony Pasin, said no government had committed funding to the strategy so far: "This is something that needs to be finalised … the Federal Government has put a funding proposal on the table and now we're waiting on them [states and territories] to commit to us.”

"If we see consistent and continual outbreaks then ultimately our relationship and status with our trading partners will be damaged. There's been indicative support, but now we need formal support. We need the other thing, which is always the most difficult thing to achieve, and that is a funding commitment from each of the states."

Just weeks after the announcement SA experienced a fruit fly outbreak in the Riverland, an area internationally recognised as being fruit fly free. In Tasmania multiple fruit flies were detected in several parts of the state.

But despite the impact on SA, Minister for Primary Industries Tim Whetstone said SA would not sign off on the national agreement until the eastern states came to the table. He said he would meet with Victoria and New South Wales Agricultural Ministers in February, chaired by Federal Agricultural Minister David Littleproud.

Victoria's Government, however, said it is already invested in a $9 million strategy of its own funded until 2020.

Source: ABC Rural

LAMP test for Queensland Fruit Fly

Queensland Fruit Fly poses a risk to Yarra Valley produce, both commercial production and small scale home gardens. QFF is mostly absent in the region. The region was classed as Fruit Fly Free, and was  only recently suspended for trade due to some isolated detections in the 2017/18 summer. This occured along with simultaneous detections in Pest Free States of Australia (SA WA and TAS). It is crucial that the Yarra Valley remains QFF Free to maintain productivity, promote interstate and international trade, and protect successful Integrated Pest Management programs.

Whist a keen eye can pick the traits of an adult QFF insect with reasonable confidence, the larvae identification is far more difficult to perform with the naked eye and affirm or deny with confidence. Often a microscope and a laboratory-based DNA test is required. An identification can take time to confirm due to logistics of getting the suspect larvae to the laboratory, and then the timely process of formal identification.

The Yarra Valley are treating QFF like an exotic insect, even though our state has declared it “present state-wide”. A Yarra Valley QFF detection triggers a voluntary eradication response that aims to combat the issue as soon as practicable. The importance of protecting our QFF Freedom and its value to our horticulture is highlighted by our investment in local and regional awareness activities, and fruit fly trapping programs supported by the State Government, local council and fruit growers.

The LAMP test kit for ‘in field’ identification of suspect QFF insect or larvae, is a project being delivered by Agriculture Victoria’s Paul Cunningham, David Williams, and their team; Arati Agarwal, Linda Zheng, Brendan Rodoni, & Mark Blacket. They have defined a process that identifies an insect or larvae’s DNA and compares it with a known QFF DNA sample. A matching result indicates the suspect insect or larvae is QFF, with a satisfactory level of confidence already achieved in laboratory testing of the procedure. Now it’s time to see if the test can be performed with accuracy and efficiency in the field by a trained person. The Yarra Valley Regional Coordinator, Bronwyn Koll, has been trained and will be testing larvae and insects this season.

Benefits to the trialling of this kit in the Yarra Valley this season is twofold. The identification of a suspect larvae can be quick (as little as 45 minutes testing time), provided locally, and an eradication response can be triggered sooner than current practice allows. The usefulness and accuracy of the kit will be assessed with back up verification of the intact suspect insect/larvae still performed using the current laboratory processes. The volume of false Yarra Valley QFF detections can be better dealt with locally, and the expense of laboratory testing larvae that turn out to be not QFF and for example, non-risk classed species like Island Fly or Green Metallic Tomato Fly can be minimised.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the Yarra Valley this season, and the partnership with the Agriculture Victoria team is also valuable. Together we can create and trial useful tools for industry to better manage pest threats. Potentially, the team could develop a dual QFF and Mediterranean Fruit Fly (MFF) test procedure, which would benefit all growing regions.

More details about the trial are outlined below:

Picture1.png

New LAMP Assays for Fruit Flies (Loop-mediated isothermal amplification)

·       Main Aim: Develop assays to be able to identify Queensland fruit fly (QFF) and Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) from other fruit flies (Biosecurity).

·       Flies can be intercepted as larvae in fruit, in production areas or in export produce.

·       Potentially could be used for detection of these pests at borders, state & national.

Picture2.png

Desirable traits for field deployment

·       less energy consumption - no need for thermocyclers

·       faster reaction time - results in less than 40 minutes

·       can tolerate “crude” nucleic acid extracts - no need for lab-based template preparation

·       LAMP can be used in the field for rapid pest / pathogen detection

Picture3.png

 Outcomes

•       Successfully developed and validated LAMP assay for QFF

•       Successfully developed and validated LAMP assay for Medfly

•       LAMP is effective on all life stages of the fruit fly

•       Currently being tested by Biosecurity staff, Tasmania and Western Australia

Fruit Fly LAMP: Acknowledgments

•       DEDJTR (AgVic) Biosecurity funding and samples

•       Paul Cunningham (AgVic)

•       David Williams (AgVic Tatura), QFF fieldwork

•       NAQS samples of northern Australian fruit flies (David Britton & Isarena Schneider)

 

Validation of anthocyanins for their anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties

Data collected from more than 602,000 individuals across Australia, Europe and the U.S. has asserted anthocyanins, the water-soluble pigments known to give certain fruits and vegetables their distinctive blue, purple and red hues, may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as help in the treatment of certain types of cancer and diabetes.

Researchers suggest about 400 individual anthocyanins have been identified, most of which are concentrated in the skins of fruits, particularly berries such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Source: ProHealth.com

Robotic hands, sensitive enough to pick soft fruit

A new breed of robots with humanoid hands capable of performing delicate tasks such as picking soft fruit has been made possible by a technological breakthrough from Stanford University scientists.

Researchers in the US have developed electronic gloves designed to give robots an improved ability to touch and grasp delicate objects in a similar way to human hands. The technology is likely to be useful for companies developing farming robots, which need to be able to handle delicate crops without damaging them.

The research team developed a glove which includes sensors in its fingertips that measure the intensity and direction of pressure. The glove imitates the way that layers of skin in the human hand work together to make them sensitive to pressure.

Handling items like berries and other food is important for robots as companies have spent millions of pounds in funding on developing robotic arms to pick fruit and vegetables without damaging them.

Source: FreshPlaza.com

RASberry - Robotics and Automation Systems for berry production

The RAS-Berry project is looking to develop autonomous fleets of robots for in-field transportation to aid and complement human fruit pickers. In particular, the project will consider strawberry production in polytunnels. A solution for autonomous in-field transportation will significantly decrease strawberry production costs and be the first step towards fully autonomous robotic systems for berry production.

The project will develop a dedicated mobile platform together with software components for fleet management, long-term operation and safe human robot collaboration in strawberry production facilities.

The project is a collaboration between the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) and University of Lincoln. Further information is available on the project website here.

Australia and NZ join forces on plant biosecurity research

Australia and New Zealand have entered into a new collaboration to strengthen plant biosecurity research.

The Australian Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI) will join forces with Better Border Biosecurity, New Zealand (B3 NZ) through a memorandum of understanding.

“We are both committed to working together to deliver plant biosecurity research of mutual benefit to both countries,” said PBRI Chair Greg Fraser.

“Trans-Tasman connections will be facilitated between key elements of our biosecurity research, development and extension systems,” said B3NZ Chair James Buwalda.

The main aspects of the new collaboration will involve:

  • cross-sectoral projects on pre-border, at-border and immediate post-border biosecurity research;

  • government, industry, research or academic players, including partners of PBRI and B3; and

  • formation of a joint Aus/NZ plant biosecurity network to support the professional development of post-graduate and post-doctoral students.

For further information, click here.

Arrest of first saboteur in needles in strawberries incident

COMMENT FROM QUEENSLAND STRAWBERRY GROWERS ASSOCIATION:

Queensland strawberry growers are pleased to be advised that police have arrested someone and charged them with the original act of product sabotage in the needles in strawberries incident.

Given the crippling impact on the Queensland strawberry industry, this person should be brought to account to the full extent of the law. The Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) congratulate Queensland Police for their efforts.

However, it is disconcerting that the charges relate to only six or seven punnets of strawberries, proving that the majority of the 200+ incidents were copycats or false reports.

Controlling bad public behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge beyond the control of farmers. There was never an issue with the quality, integrity and freshness of local grown strawberries.

It was a crisis driven by social media and the only real victims were the strawberry growers, and to some extent other Australian fruit growers and exporters.

People who make claims of tampering via social media instead of contacting the authorities are questionable and should be brought to account. If the claims are false, attention seeking or attempting to gain financial advantage, they should face criminal charges.

Australia has strict agricultural standards to ensure the purity and wholesomeness of our fresh produce. Our primary industry bodies and agricultural authorities vigorously and vigilantly defend those standards. 

Controlling inappropriate consumer behaviour, including product tampering, is a challenge. However, the Australian fresh food industry, in collaboration with government, is committed to ensuring that produce arrives for sale in the same condition that it left the farm. 

All of government and industry is currently undertaking intensive review of the events and behaviours that brought the Queensland strawberry industry to its knees.

Strawberry growers appreciate that their customers quickly recognised there was no substantial issue with the fruit and gave their support and that sales are returning to normal.

All farmers and growers sincerely hope there will not be a repeat of past events.  

Offering premium berriers in convenience packaging

guillin7.jpg

Globally the segment of to-go products is currently experiencing significant growth in fresh fruit and vegetables. Soft fruit and berry fruit in particular, are rapidly establishing themselves as snack products for in-between consumption. Parallel to this current trend, packaging suppliers in the fresh food sector are also developing sensible solutions, meeting the growing demand accordingly. A good example that has emerged is French manufacturer Guillin who are launching some innovative solutions for the to-go segment over the next few months, including a range of snack berries cups availabe in units of 90-250 grams.

The packaging supplier is seeing an increasing demand for resealable retail packaging for snack foods so that direct marketers can also offer their products in to-go form.

Source: FreshPlaza.com

Queensland research leads to new strawberry varieties

Two new strawberry varieties have been developed at the Queensland's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Applethorpe Research Facility.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner says the Australian Strawberry Breeding Program was targeting our three major strawberry production regions – temperate, subtropical and Mediterranean – to help farmers produce more attractive, flavoursome and robust fruit.

“Breeding trials at Applethorpe during 2018 have developed two new varieties, Summer Song and Scarlet-silk, which are being trialled this season by strawberry producers in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia,” Mr Furner said. “In addition, our strawberry breeding team has just commenced a new five-year $8.6million dollar National Strawberry Varietal Development Program, co-funded by Hort Innovation, to deliver new and improved varieties to all production regions in Queensland.

Source: FreshPlaza.com

Robot Hopes to Solve Challenge of Under-Cover Pollination for Berries

High-tunnel berry production offers many advantages of starting earlier or even extending the growing season. However, pollination is much more difficult under cover, as the diffusion of light interferes with honey bees’ navigation. And with challenges of the availability of high-tunnel-compatible pollinators, a team of researchers at West Virginia University (WVU) is looking to improve pollination efficiency and uniform coverage.

Enter the BrambleBee, which, as you guessed it, is an autonomous pollination robot designed to work with bramble plants in a greenhouse. What makes the BrambleBee interesting is the research team’s approach to how pollinators function and where a robot could improve upon those bee functions. This project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s National Robotics Initiative.

The BrambleBee is an autonomous pollinator developed by researchers at West Virginia University. BrambleBee hopes to maximize pollination for berries under cover, where bees often struggle to perform effectively.  Photo Credit: Nicole Waterland

The BrambleBee is an autonomous pollinator developed by researchers at West Virginia University. BrambleBee hopes to maximize pollination for berries under cover, where bees often struggle to perform effectively.

Photo Credit: Nicole Waterland

“A robotic pollinator does not need to rest and could potentially pollinate continually,” Dr. Nicole Waterland, Associate Professor of Horticulture at WVU says. “We wanted to incorporate a modern technology into horticultural crop production. The bigger issue was the declining population of pollinators such as bees. Nearly 70% of crops depend on the pollinators. It is really a serious issue, and we need to do something about it.”

“We are not aiming at replacing bees,” he says. “We are hoping to use the robotic pollinator in places where bees are not available or not enough.”

Source: GrowingProduce.com

Appointment of Strawberry industry recovery officer

Peak industry body for horticulture, Growcom and the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association (QSGA) have announced the appointment of Lana Baskerville as the new Strawberry Industry Recovery Officer (IRO).

Ms Baskerville’s appointment forms part of the Queensland Government’s $1 million Strawberry Industry Support Package, announced in September.

Growcom Chief Advocate, Rachel Mackenzie said Ms Baskerville will work for the strawberry industry; connecting growers to the various support packages available to aid in their ongoing recovery.

“There are a number of support packages available to growers ranging from low interest loans, to farm debt restructuring assistance, financial counselling, workforce support, and personal wellbeing services,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“This support will go a long way towards safeguarding the reputation of Australian fruit, and restoring confidence among growers who are already focused on getting current harvest to market or planning for next season.”

Source: FreshPlaza.com

Applying AI in berry harvesting

Agrobot is an autonomous robotic harvester that’s poised to revolutionize the agriculture industry. It works with the world’s leading farmers to automate berry harvesting through the power of artificial intelligence.

Agrobot uses deep learning to determine when to pick fruit at its ripest. Up to 24 robotic arms grip and cut the fruit from its stem to meet the farmer’s quality standards. Agrobot uses a 3D sensing scanner with short-range integrated color and infrared depth sensors to capture the details and identify when fruit is ready for the picking.

Agrobot, powered by NVIDIA Jetson, currently assesses individual strawberries for harvesting using semantic segmentation. This method relies on a convolutional neural network to classify each pixel of the incoming image as belonging to the ‘strawberry’ class or not. However, if strawberries overlap in the image, then semantic segmentation isn’t enough. Agrobot is looking at extending their system to perform instance segmentation where each strawberry is unique.

Agrobot can be seen in the below episode of the ‘I am AI’ docuseries:

Aussie hort growers set to reap benefits under new Trans-Pacific Partnership

The National Farmers Federation has welcomed the ratification by the Australia government of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP-11) trade agreement, which it says is a major step in reach our vision of a $100 billion farm sector by 2030.

Australia became the sixth country to ratify the agreement, joining Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore as part of the first group.

NFF President Fiona Simson says it means Australian farmers will benefit from the first round of tariff cuts on 30 December and another round of cuts on 1 January 2019.

"TPP-11 delivers improved market access," she said. "These outcomes will increase investment on-farm in jobs, innovation and efficiencies that will flow through to rural and regional economies."

TPP-11 market access outcomes for Australian horticultural producers and exporters include citrus trade deals with Japan, which will extend the period by which oranges will face the lower “out of season” tariff to an 8 month period (from 1 April to 30 November), and will eliminate that tariff over 6 years. The higher “in season” tariff will be eliminated over 7 years.

Japan will also eliminate all tariffs on fruit juices within 10 years of entry into force of the TPP-11, building on the quota arrangements achieved under JAEPA.

Elimination of all Canada’s horticulture tariffs upon entry into force of the TPP-11, and elimination of most of Mexico’s horticulture tariffs immediately, and removal of all tariffs within 15 years of entry into force.

Total Australian horticulture exports were valued at $5.1 billion in 2017, and 14 per cent of these exports (valued at $756 million) went to TPP-11 countries.

"The TPP-11 is one of the most comprehensive and ambitious trade agreements in Australia’s recent history. It will help support Australian businesses to grow and see annual benefits of up to $15.6 billion to our national economy by 2030," Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham said.

Source: FreshPlaza.com

Strawberry growers feature in campaign for Ag Visa

Last summer, Hobart region, strawberry grower, David Jennings was forced to leave 350 tonnes of strawberries to rot because he could not find enough workers to pick them.

Anthony Yewers, berry farmer from Bullsbrook, WA.  Last season Anthony was short up to 50 workers, which saw about 30% of his crop go unpicked.  Photo source: National Farmers Federation

Anthony Yewers, berry farmer from Bullsbrook, WA.

Last season Anthony was short up to 50 workers, which saw about 30% of his crop go unpicked.

Photo source: National Farmers Federation

Likewise, Perth berry farmer, Anthony Yewers had no choice but to forsake 30% of his mixed berry crop.

These stories and more are being shared as part of a new campaign by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) to highlight the critical need for an agricultural-specific visa (Ag Visa).

NFF President Fiona Simson said the peak body was buoyed by Prime Minister Morrison’s recent re-commitment to bringing an Ag Visa to fruition but more work was needed.

“The Government requires additional information about the extent of agriculture's labour shortage crisis and exactly what jobs are going unfilled.

"We know stories like that of David, Anthony and their families are all too common but we need the hard data."

Ms Simson said the NFF was calling on all farm employers to complete the National Harvest Labour Information Service survey.  The one-page form, available here, asks farmers how many workers they require and for what tasks. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.

Europe: delaying strawberry decay

A longer shelf life for strawberries is desirable, and new technology in Europe is claiming to have achieved this.  A new product available through the company, Brandt Europe, has reported on tests have shown it is possible to delay the appearance of post-harvest fungi and the start of the fruit's decay by up to five days. This can have a decisive impact on the crop's economic performance with extension of shelf life in the supply chain. 

The technology called "Manni-Plex Calcium for foliar use” is said to be unlike conventional foliar nutrients, as it allows more calcium to be absorbed by the leaf and to reach the cell wall.  In this way, it is alleged to be able to keep the fruit in storage for several more days in good condition. 

Source: FreshPlaza.com

Strawberry Industry Crisis Update

Update from Department of Health

The State Health Emergency Coordination Centre (SHECC) has moved to stand down in relation to the response to this incident. However, it is continuing to monitor incidents through daily reports. 

For your information, SHECC is a control centre incorporating a number of high level government agencies working collaboratively to respond to and investigate major food safety incursions.

Update from Queensland Police

The Queensland Police Service (QPS) is continuing to conduct an extensive investigation, Operation 'Quebec Rosella,' focusing on the deliberate contamination of Queensland strawberries. The QPS is working collaboratively with government agencies, including State law enforcement agencies across Australia to minimise the risk of harm to the community, and identify person/s responsible for committing these criminal acts. Investigations continue to focus on all aspects of the supply and distribution networks, from farm to retail sector. 

The Queensland Government has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of person or persons responsible for the contamination. Police have received a very good response from those within the community impacted by these incidents and continue to work through a significant volume of information. 

The QPS thanks strawberry growers for their continued assistance and cooperation with this challenging investigation.

Back to Market Working Group

The Back to Market Working Group has been formed to provide a forum for discussion between the Queensland Strawberry Industry and the Queensland Government. The group will progress issues relating to the contamination of fresh strawberries including:

  • Immediate steps that can be taken to restore consumer confidence and support the industry in getting back to market

  • Intermediate to long-term measures that may be necessary to improve supply chain integrity and secure market access and confidence

  • Providing a mechanism to feed information back into the broader government investigation into the contamination, and response in relation to food safety processes.

In particular, the working group provides the framework for a partnership approach to determine the allocation of support funding provided by the Queensland Government. The group is comprised of strawberry growers, DAF staff, market agents, Growcom representatives and a crisis management consultant.

The group held its first meeting/teleconference on 25th September. At this meeting, there was an agreement on the key breakdown of the $1million commitment to the strawberry industry from the Queensland Government:

  • $600,000 to restore consumer confidence through a targeted campaign

  • $250,000 for a supply chain integrity study for horticulture

  • $150,000 for QSGA and Growcom to assist with industry response.

The second meeting of the Back to Market Working Group was held on 3rd October 2018. The group was provided with an overview of the current media situation, the community response to the crisis and what progress had been made in regards to the Qld Government funding since the previous meeting. 

A key item on the agenda for the second meeting was discussion around the development of the four pillars for the Qld Government funding, and additional funding as a result of community support. Following is a breakdown of the four pillars:

1. Communications and marketing to address consumer confidence

Purpose:

  • Immediate support for Granite Belt and national summer strawberry producers

  • Medium term to support 2019 winter production (March 2019 onwards).

Strategic activities:

  • Develop 12 month communications and marketing plan with local, state and national focus. To include international communication opportunities to address export

  • Scope consultancy pitches for: media/PR, social media, other marketing

  • Ensure linkages with other national communication and marketing activities including those that address export markets (Federal, other states etc). 

2. Supply chain integrity

Purpose:

  • Crisis review and recommendations

  • Supply chain engagement, accountability and integrity.

Strategic activities:

  • Contract crisis management specialist to review the incident and response (inc. Govt, media, QSGA) and make recommendations

  • Contract supply chain expertise to work with wholesale and retail representatives at a state and national level to build better accountability and integrity post farm gate

  • Ensure coordination with Federal Department of Agriculture, Hort Innovation, and other state organisations. 

3. Industry development and capacity

Purpose:

  • Crisis review and recommendations

  • Supply chain engagement, accountability and integrity.

Strategic activities:

  • Employ an Industry Recovery Officer (IRO)

  • Conduct strawberry industry advocacy and communications

  • Provide administrative and project support for IDO.

4. Community support donations

Purpose:

  • To address gaps in current delivery

  • Possible focus on provision of a mental health program.

Strategic activities:

  • To be finalised following farm visits and industry evaluation by Industry Recovery Officer (IRO).

Each of these pillars requires a sub-action group to ensure that they meet industry and government needs. If you are interested in being involved in any of these sub-action groups and have your say in the implementation of strategic activities, please contact Jen Rowling on 0438 752 177 or email office@qldstrawberries.com.au .

Recovery funding

In addition to the $1 million Queensland Government support package, the Federal Government has also announced its support. The QSGA is working with both Queensland and the Federal Government to ascertain details and ensure that they complement each other, meeting our industries needs without duplication.

Industry Recovery Officer appointed

As part of the State Government funding package, Growcom, in collaboration with the QSGA, have appointed an Industry Recovery Officer. Lana Baskerville will be contacting and visiting strawberry growers in the coming weeks and months to find out how the crisis has affected each of you, and provide information on support and financial assistance opportunities. She will also be collecting information to ensure that the programs and communications rolled out are in the best interests of growers and of the strawberry industry as a whole. Further information about Lana and her plans for farm visits will be distributed in due course, and she will be attending upcoming grower meetings where possible (see meeting list below).

Grower meetings

Grower meetings to update everyone on the current situation have been planned as follows:

Bundaberg:  Friday, 12th October, BFVG Boardroom from 11am

Stanthorpe:  Wednesday, 17th October, Queensland College of Wine Tourism from 4.30pm

Beerwah: Tuesday, 23rd October, Beerwah Golf Club from 7pm

For further information, please contact Sub-tropical Industry Development Officer, Jen Rowling on office@qldstrawberries.com.au or 0438 752 177.