Harvest trail campaign
In August 2013 we started a 3 year campaign to help employers and employees working on the Harvest trail to understand their rights and obligations at work.
Every year seasonal harvest workers follow the Harvest Trail of ripening fruit, vegetables and other crops around Australia. From January grape picking in the Hunter Valley to autumn apples in Tasmania, October mangoes in the Northern Territory and cherries at Christmas time. The horticulture and viticulture industries employ many travellers and seasoned harvesters.
Why the Harvest trail?
Our experience of working with employers and employees in the horticulture industry has shown there is often:
- confusion about employer obligations, including how to use piece rate agreements
- a lack of understanding about grower’s obligations when using a labour hire service.
What are we doing about it?
From tomatoes in northern Queensland to strawberries in Victoria and cucumbers in Western Australia we’re talking to growers and workers about:
- minimum wages and conditions, including piece rates
- record keeping and pay slips
- labour hire and supply chain issues.
Our campaign isn’t just about auditing growers. We want to find out what’s happening out there and what problems growers face when dealing with workplace laws.
We’ll be visiting and revisiting growing regions during the campaign and working with industry associations to build ongoing relationships. - Find out more information on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Yesterday, the Federal Government released the Food and Grocery Code of Conduct, which is intended address unfair practices in the grocery sector, including by supermarkets towards suppliers. The ACCC will be responsible for enforcing the Code.
- requires retailers and wholesalers to act in good faith
- sets out the requirements of agreements between retailers or wholesalers and suppliers, including that they be in writing
- limits when retailers or wholesalers can unilaterally or retrospectively vary an agreement with a supplier, and requires any variation and the reason for it to be in writing, and
- sets out a dispute resolution process.
The Code complements existing protections for suppliers under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, including the unconscionable conduct provisions. It was developed in parallel with the ACCC’s investigations into alleged conduct of grocery retailers, including proceedings against Coles in which the court found that Coles had engaged in unconscionable conduct towards some suppliers.
The ACCC has developed guidance material on the Code, which is available on the ACCC website. The website will contain a list of the retailers and wholesalers who choose to be bound by the Code.
For more information, read the ACCC media release.
Please find below for download the hard copy of the extended permit PER11002 – Version 2 - covering use of Dupont Avatar (indoxacarb) on cherries for control of European earwig. Version 1 was to have expired on 31 March 2015 but Version 2 is valid until 31 March 2020.
Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) is taking a new investment model to industry that promises to revolutionise how horticulture addresses the key strategic R&D issues that underpin the long-term viability of the sector.
The model prioritises long-term investments for the horticulture industry, while continuing to support sector specific investment, through the establishment of two separate investment pools.
Releasing a consultation paper - Determining the Strategic Investment Priorities for the Australian Horticulture Industry – today, HIA Chairman Selwyn Snell said the new not-for-profit, grower-owned structure of HIA provided an opportunity to address more strategic research areas.
"Numerous reviews and investigations identified the need for longer term investments in large key strategic projects that will ensure a sustainable and competitive industry into the future," Mr Snell said.
"To achieve this, a Strategic Co-Investment Funding Pool (Pool 2) will be established specifically to address research priorities that will have an impact on the viability of the horticultural sector."
Approximately $20m worth of seed funding will eventually be allocated to this strategic pool and it is expected that co-investors will help to more than double the amount of money available.
The consultation paper – and an invitation to growers and other stakeholders to make submissions on priority areas and solutions – will be the first stage in extensive consultation to confirm research priorities for Pool 2.
"The paper identifies priority areas like market access, supply chain pressures, labour, climate and biosecurity as essential to creating a sustainable and competitive Australian horticultural industry, and which typically require long term investment."
"We want feedback on the priority areas identified in the paper, as well as any other issues or areas that growers feel are important," Mr Snell said.
HIA will consult directly with industry stakeholders, and by mid-year will release a whitepaper that identifies the strategic R&D investment priorities, explains the decision process and allocates funds to priority areas.
While looking to advance strategic investment, Mr Snell said the Board recognised that levies paid by growers need to be reinvested in those respective industries to meet industry specific challenges and opportunities.
"Under the new structure, an investment pool of approximately $60m (Pool 1) will be available for individual industry R&D and marketing activity."
He said the new structure (Pool 1) offers industry an opportunity to ensure maximum return on their levy investment.
"I urge growers and stakeholders to make submissions, and actively become involved in the process of determining their industry’s future."
- The paper is available at http://www.consultingis.com.au/our-services/strategic-business-planning/hia_green_paper
- Also attached is the HIAL membership application form.
Vietnam has followed through on its intention to effectively ban imports of Australian fruit from 1 January, 2015.
Vietnam has issued no import permits for Australian fruit and vegetables for this year, citing concerns about fruit fly.
No produce is currently being traded.
Horticultural exports to Vietnam were worth $40 million last year.
The tablegrape industry made up $32 million of that, and Michelle Christoe from the Horticultural Exporters' Association says that's where the ban will hit hardest.
"There is no alternate market that has a clear trade path for the black table grapes, in particular the Midnight Beauty," she said.
"They won't get the same sort of returns on the local market, and at the moment we do have an oversupply of table grapes on the local market."
Vietnam has expressed particular concerns about Mediterranean fruit fly, primarily an issue in Western Australia rather than the eastern states.
But many within the Australian horticulture sector privately believe the real reason for Vietnam's decision to tighten its import regulations is because of that country's frustration over the length of time taken by Australia in deciding whether it will accept horticultural imports from Vietnam.
"The Vietnamese have been wanting to import lychees [to Australia] since 2003.
"However, we've only, in early December reviewed their management system to look at whether the Australian conditions for irradiated fruit are going to be successful," Ms Christoe said.
She says Australia's import risk assessment (IRA) process needs to be faster, but should also be reviewed to 'be moving hand in hand, strategically, with out exports, so we don't have trade being banned.'
But Ms Christoe says that doesn't mean compromising Australia's quarantine conditions.
"We're asking for it just to be looked at a lot faster.
"We're not saying there's anything wrong with the produce that's being reviewed, we just need to be reviewing it faster and [with] more resources being applied to it," she said.
Cherry Growers Australia chief executive Simon Boughey has also supported the call for a review of Australia's assessment processes.
"Australia's a very difficult place sometimes to bring fruit into, so I think we've got to look at the whole system," he said.
"When we talk about importation of fruit, it's the market forces that will be at play in terms of how much of that fruit will actually be consumed by the Australian consumer."
Mr Boughey says industry is 'very, very keen' to work with the Australian Department of Agriculture to resolve issues with Vietnam and restore trade as quickly as possible, but he wouldn't speculate on a timeframe within which that might be achieved.
In a statement, a Department of Agriculture spokesman said it is 'working with the Vietnamese Government to provide additional information about fruit fly management and control in Australia.'
"Officials in the region are meeting as often as possible with Vietnamese counterparts to minimise trade disruptions and encourage early resolution of Vietnam's concerns," the spokesman said.
"We value our trade relationship with Vietnam very highly and are committed to providing Vietnam with products that meet their importing country requirements, just as we are committed to ensuring Australian producers have cost effective treatment options to access the market."
The Department is due to host a fifth teleconference with industry representatives tomorrow, to update them on the progress of negotiations.
Growers of $50 billion horticultural industry get ‘Voice’
18 Dec 2014
“Voice of Horticulture represents all horticultural growers and businesses across fruit, nuts, turf, nursery plants and cut flowers, who work every day to feed and sustain us,” says Tania Chapman, Chair, Voice of Horticulture. “These commodities are a crucial part of a healthy diet and lifestyle and we expect to see increasing demand for them.”
Horticulture is the biggest employer of all the agricultural industries in Australia – employing a third of all agricultural workers – and is the third biggest by value ($10 billion at the farm gate and over $50 billion at retail). In 2013/14 the value of horticulture exports achieved a record high of $1.5 billion.