The fruit industry has a tough battle ahead after the state government imposed a mandatory fruit sale in all fruit-producing areas on Monday.
The ban comes after a number of large fruit farms across the country were forced to close due to a shortage of seedlings.
“It’s the first time in our industry’s history that we’re forced to do something,” said Tom Loeffler, CEO of the National Fruit Council, the industry body that represents more than 400 fruit producers.
“We’re not just talking about one small farm here or there.
There are over 700.
That’s a massive number.”
Mr Loefe said the move was aimed at tackling the growing problem of over-farming and over-supply.
“There is a problem with over-planting, over-harvesting, and the fact that the market for fruits is so large,” he said.
“So the whole problem of the supply chain is being disrupted and our customers are left with very little choice.”‘
We are not a supermarket’The ban has been welcomed by the Australian Chamber of Fruit Growers, which has called it a “necessary step to protect the health of our country’s fruit and vegetable growers”.
“It is absolutely critical that our industry maintains a strong presence in Australia and that the fruits that we buy are not being sold to supermarkets,” the association said in a statement.
“This ban is an important first step towards ensuring that all growers are able to sell their produce to supermarkets.”
It comes as Australia’s top fruit producer, the Commonwealth, announced plans to raise $1 billion to fund a new network of growers.
“Our plan is to grow and sell to consumers at a scale we’ve never seen before,” said Australian Wheat Board chief executive Mike Hawes.
“At the same time, we will provide support to growers who are already doing it well.”
The government has also pledged $3 billion to boost Australia’s supply of genetically engineered crops, and $2.6 billion to help growers transition to sustainable agriculture.
The new crop, which will be produced in the United States, will have a 30 per cent market share over conventional varieties.
“I believe it’s the right thing to do to provide a little stability and the support to grow at a very sustainable level,” Mr Hawes said.
‘It’s a huge challenge’The new system, called the Biotechnology Strategy for Australia, will see Australian producers buy seed from growers overseas and sell the seeds to Australian farmers.
“The biggest challenge we’re facing right now is how to support growers who don’t have access to that kind of technology,” Mr Loefler said.
In July, the Agriculture Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said he was “very optimistic” that a solution would be found.
“If we can get this into place in a way that is acceptable to the Australian people, it would be a really great relief for the growers who rely on that market,” he told ABC News Breakfast.