Home' Grower : Dec 2012 - Jan 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- December 2012/January 2013
CONSISTENTLY at all levels of
government one hears the same old line
-- 'we only want to deal with a single
organisation speaking with a single
voice'. Yet the rhetoric is not supported
Reality is that governments and
government ministers are happy to
meet with a range of organisations
expressing their own opinions on an
issue. In fact I would suggest that in the
way governments historically do
business, they actually encourage this
type of response.
They then use the information to
'divide and conquer'.
OR they use the so called division not
to make a decision.
OR they make a decision that they
had planned to make anyway, but tell
the community that because the
industry was divided they had to make
their own decision.
Past ministers, at all levels, have often
had an obvious policy not to meet with
industry organisations unless as a last
resort. They would always prefer to visit
a grower and/or a region and talk one-
on-one rather than meet industry
groups. Often industry reported that the
only way they were able to meet with
the minister was to go on an overseas
delegation with him/her.
There have always been some
exceptions to the rule, but they have
been few and far between.
So often industry sectors have
prepared and presented united
submissions on an issue but they have
not been accepted by government or
specific government agencies, who
would openly report that they only
received one submission on a particular
topic. The fact that the submission was
signed off by five, 10 or 20 industry
organisations was never recognised.
To overcome this, industries often
resorted to organising large numbers of
individual submissions to be prepared
and sent, just to highlight that more
than one submission was received. This
was a waste of time and effort, but it
was the only way to deal with the lack
of honesty by government and
government agencies in relation to this
rhetoric of only wanting a 'single voice'
Many of the issues are industry
specific. For instance the importation of
apples from New Zealand was an apple
industry specific issue. Similarly the
importation of potatoes from New
Zealand is a potato industry specific
issue. There are many more of these
types of 'commodity-based' issues.
A single horticulture organisation
cannot and should not be negotiating
with government on these specific
Where a single horticulture body can
act is in the broad area of biosecurity or
There are many issues like this where
the specific issue is commodity-based
but the broader issue is an 'across
As a result there is a place for both
individual commodity representation
and single industry representation, and
it is time that governments accepted
this as the best way of dealing with
How many 'round table' committees
have been closed down by government
on the premise of financial costs and
budgetary restraints? Yet these
committees were one way of getting
that 'single voice' on a single issue.
How often has the business
community spoken with a single voice
yet government in the end has taken no
notice? Sale of forestry rotations,
biosecurity, work health and safety, and
half-day public holidays are just a few
examples where there has been a
strong single voice, yet government and
other parliamentary members have
taken absolutely no notice of it.
My reading of the situation is that
industries within South Australia and
around Australia have had enough and
are working on new 'single voice'
structures. These will be very powerful
bodies and will rival those that currently
have the social media space in some of
the controversial areas.
I am confident that 2013 will see the
development and emergence of a new
State Primary Industry organisation and
also a new Australian Horticulture peak
Watch this space.
From my perspective, Governments
are happy with the status quo -- many
In 2013 they will get a real shock
when there are true state and national
bodies that will speak with a single
voice on major issues.
Let's hope they are prepared.
My Perspective by
Monsanto experts predict
stress for veggie growers
By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
growers are not alone --
it's a tough job the world
This view comes from two
men at the forefront of veg-
etable technology and breeding
-- vice president of technology
Vegetables, Dr John Purcell,
and global technology lead for
tomatoes, Monsanto, Joost van
The pair visited Australia in
September to inspect trial crops
and speak with growers directly
about the latest in-plant breed-
ing. Their visit took them to the
major vegetable production
areas of Queensland including
Bowen, Bundaberg and the
While the nitty-gritty of yields
and disease resistance took up
most of their time, they could
not avoid some of the overarch-
ing global agriculture concerns.
The collapse of some major
vegetable growing businesses
within the past 18 months was
not unique to Australia, the two
men said. In fact, there are
potential benefits in the long
"I think the pressure is really
on providing a high quality
product at consistent supply at a
retail level," Dr Purcell said.
"It really is traumatic and you
hate to see people go out of
business, but I think a lot of
times you see the industry
emerge stronger as you get the
players that are the most com-
Mr van Regteren said it was
"We see a good year, followed
by a couple of bad years... but
all in all, growers are under pres-
sure especially when produce
prices are, let's say, marginal,"
For Monsanto, Australia is
very much on the global radar of
the seed and chemical giant.
A mature retail sector and peak
grower efficiency make it an
ideal place to test and refine
how certain products will fare.
Dr Purcell, who is based in
America, said getting onto the
ground beside those who are
actually growing the product
"If you spend 15 minutes
walking a trial with a customer,
you'll learn more about that
product than you may have in
many years of development," he
The Europe-based Mr van
Regteren said tomato yellow leaf
curl virus was one of the recur-
ring concerns he heard from
Australian growers, as he had
heard in other parts of the
Added to this was a need for
greater resistance against fusari-
"That's what they need, and
the combination, of course, is
always challenging -- to have
good yields, good performance
in the field, a good quality prod-
uct and the disease package.
They really stressed that they are
looking for products with that
package and that profile," Mr
van Regteren said.
He said it was pleasing to see
some trials where those traits
were all falling into place.
For seed companies, balancing
disease resistance and fruit qual-
ity is an ongoing challenge.
Dr Purcell said it was impor-
tant to remain open and con-
nected with growers, who
appreciate the approach.
"The good news is they are
interested in the product. The
problem is they want it yester-
day," Dr Purcell said.
"It's a long process and you
have to be way ahead of the
game as far as understanding
where the source of resistance
out there is. In the end they
want all the yield and the quali-
ty of fruit, so it's got to be resist-
ant, plus everything else within
According to Dr Purcell,
Monsanto is aiming to be
increasingly transparent in
"It's really getting into a
healthy kind of conversation
now around what is the value
that seed companies technology
can bring to provide value at the
grower level, but allows the
retailer to differentiate at the
consumer level," he said.
On the question of alternatives
for fruit fly chemical controls
such as fenthion or dimethoate,
Mr van Regteren said there was
no magic solution to the prob-
lem in breeding.
He said fruit fly was almost a
daily discussion for him. "We
need to be constantly aware that
we are trying to be one step
ahead of this type of ad-hoc
change in the market, because
we cannot always be reactive,"
"That's our aim -- to be one or
two steps ahead of these issues."
"In the end, the challenge is
that one of the tools that has
been used is no longer available,
but the grower still has to stay
profitable," Dr Purcell said.
"Seed companies are really
working hard trying to stay
innovative about that."
1800 811 283 or
Fax Toll Free
1800 626 263 or
Speaking with a single voice:
Is that what governments
really want from industry?
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