Home' Grower : February 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2013
Finch pin-up for
FROM an overweight,
greengrocer to a 20-
stonefruit industry has
radically changed its
promotional face this
presenter and foodie
(pictured) has become
the face of the Australian Summer Stonefruit
promotion with the hope of pushing a healthy
lifestyle image after an indulgent festive season.
Ms Finch replaces Con the Fruiterer (comedian
Mark Mitchell), who successfully spearheaded a
campaign in recent years to increase stonefruit
consumption and awareness.
Summer Stonefruit has retained the "100 per
cent dribbilicious" catch-cry, aimed at tempting
shoppers to purchase peaches, nectarines, plums
Ms Finch is one of the hosts of Channel Seven's
Great Outdoors and was runner-up in Celebrity
Interestingly, she is from Townsville, Queensland,
about as far from stonefruit production as
But even that has been spun around to embrace
her image as a sun-loving outdoor girl.
"It's always exciting visiting my family in
Townsville during summer because, ever since I
was young, we've always had a big bowl of
stonefruit on the kitchen table. It's part of our
Aussie culture," Ms Finch said.
By ALICE GORMAN
QUEENSLAND'S low-chill stone-
fr uit industry is at risk of folding
with producers choosing to rip out
their trees rather than continue farming.
Fred Baronio, the former deputy chair
of Summerfruit, bulldozed his orchard at
the end of 2011, ending a 30-year career
producing peaches, apricots and plums.
He said he could not justify continuing
with returns non-existent because of the
high cost of doing business.
And Mr Baronio is not alone.
"It just doesn't add up," he said. "We
had 37,000 trees, I planted them and
they were in the prime of their life. I'm
not Robinson Cr usoe, I have plenty of
friends (in the same situation). I have
never seen so many growers so down-
hearted," he said
President of the early season peach and
nectarine industry in Queensland and
New South Wales Ray Hick is also about
to bulldoze his orchard at Bangalow.
He says rising costs and a decision by
processors, such as Golden Circle and
SPC Ardmona, to reduce contracts had
spelled the start of the trouble.
But the final nail in the coffin came
when the government decided to with-
draw fenthion for use to control
Queensland fruitfly, following an earlier
move to ban the use of dimethoate on
certain horticultural crops.
"We've just finished off the season and
now we're pulling the trees out," Mr
"There was $350,000 in infrastructure
alone in my paddocks, the netting, the
wiring and then the trees. I'll probably
convert the paddocks back to grass, but
we're classed as prime agricultural land so
I can't even sell as real estate."
Mr Hick says growers would have react-
ed better if the government had present-
ed an alternative pest management sys-
tem, or had allowed the industry time to
"They keep telling us that in the United
States it's a banned chemical, but in the
US their state and federal governments
spent billions of dollars releasing sterile
male fruit flies to control the outbreak,"
"In Australia, our government won't
spend $4 to put stamps on the letters
they send to us let alone give us a com-
mitment that they'll eradicate fruitfly in
Queensland and NSW."
Mr Baronio says he used to employ up
to 12 people at peak season, four of them
Since bulldozing his trees, he focuses
only on apples and pears and has had to
let three of the four permanent staff go.
He had grown for Golden Circle for 12
years when the company told him that it
could no longer take his stonefruit crops.
"I believe they now source their fruit
frozen from overseas," Mr Baronio said.
"For me, it was quite a simple decision.
You can't keep growing something to
"We were being returned less than what
we were 15 years ago -- the bubble had to
"We're facing a whole host of charges
that are rising, labour costs, registration
ofvehicles, rates, power -- the list just
keeps going on and on and on. It got to
the point where it just didn't add up.
"If things don't sort themselves out
then it's only a matter of time before the
industry will just collapse."
Govt withdrawl of chemicals 'final
nail in coffin'
Costs rising above cost-of-produc-
No support for fruitfly eradication
Stonefruit industry 'teetering'
Ray Hick says rising costs and a
decision by processors, such as Golden
Circle and SPC Ardmona, to reduce
contracts had spelled the start of the
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