With most production industries under pressure from a serious lack of government support or protectionism, it is past time that we the public voiced our concerns as a united community.
Our Riverland grape growers are a perfect example of what goes wrong when greed and lack of support services have their full impact.
The cost of producing and delivering a tonne of grapes is around $250, and these costs continue to rise while the government are able to ignore the need to protect the rising costs of water alone for our primary production industry.
So when the wine makers start offering the growers less than the amount they invested to produce the harvest, we know the industry is in big trouble.
Who would dare pay tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to work hard all year? Farmers cannot operate at a loss, over the past 5 years; the genuine cost of production is not being met.
What makes matters worse is hearing the statement, if you don’t take our offer, we can import the produce cheaper, what an utter disgrace, the wine makers have been making a profit while they were paying the grower over $300 a tonne, so how dare they expect to buy quality product for as low as $120 a tonne, knowing imported product will not be of the same quality in any event?
Wine makers have been riding on the back of our growers for far too long now; they expect the grower to finance their operations through paying for their produce in instalments over long periods of time as it is.
Can you imagine the devastation to the industry if we start exporting inferior product, possibly with Made in Australia on the label?
The industry as a whole should be working hand in hand, and that means sharing the risks, and ensuring the industry as a whole is sustainable, not taking the approach that the buyer has all the power.
Our state government and the opposition best make this an election issue and front up to the public and let us know what support they can offer in the short term.
Since 2010 elections have been fought on promises to save the car manufacturing industry, and all those promises have been nothing but hot air, so we as South Australians must demand that action in this case is not another hollow promise.
The wine makers must offer a minimum price that ensures the growers have not operated at a loss, and if the wine makers cannot stand alone due to the government’s lack of support, then let the government step in, because our wine industry is a major exporter.
Where once there were fair contracts, this new approach of spot pricing has allowed the wine makers to stand over the growers, and is an unacceptable practice that must be changed.
Any concept of replacing local produce with inferior imported stock MUST be taken of the table immediately, and the companies making these threats best be named and shamed.
I will meet with the growers in Berri on the 17th, and work on the best way forward, and with an election looming on March the 15th, it is an ideal time to pressure the government to make this an election issue and for all candidates to make their position known.
It is time for firm immediate action, to ensure the survival of this important industry.
08 82847482 / 0403379500