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TAS Country : November 4th 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News HOPEFUL: Onion grower Brian Bonde is pressing for more research and development funding. Onion levy rise on agenda JENNIFER CRAWLEY THERE are 200 onion growers in Tasmania and Brian Bonde wants all of them to attend a series of meetings at the Ulverstone's Beachway Motel next week. That is when onion growers from around Australia meet to discuss an increase to their research and develop- ment levy. Onions Australia chair and Tasman- ian farmer Mr Bonde said the levy increase discussions were on the agen- da at the annual series of meetings by Onions Australia. Onion growers pay $1.60 for research and development per tonne of onions a year. Mr Bonde said he was hopeful that growers would agree to a rise of $1. The average farmer grows about 1000 tonnes a year and Tasmania grows about 40 per cent of the total Australian crop. ''To get the best advantage from the dollar-to-dollar funding we need to raise the levy,'' Mr Bonde said. ''We are missing out on R and D and Government contribution. He said the Federal Government would contribute up to 0.05 per cent of the gross value of the industry. ''We need to raise our R and D levy to $500,000 or $600,000 a year, then we can access the full amount from the Government,'' Mr Bonde said. At least 80 per cent of Tasmania's onions go to export markets in Ger- many, Belgium, England and Holland. ''There's a window of opportunity in Europe before they have their new onion season,'' Mr Bonde said. He said other Australian states had tried to export but had not been as successful as Tasmania. ''The cooler climate here means that onions keep better than those grown in warmer climates,'' Mr Bonde said. He said the levy increase discussions had been going on for several months. ''When we put the proposal to the growers we explained what had been achieved and what needs to be done, mindful that we do need to invest in our industry,'' Mr Bonde said. ''No one grows a crop any more and just shoves it out there.'' At Ulverstone, growers will also discuss a marketing levy to increase customer consumption of produce. Mr Bonde said the industry had not increased, let alone maintained, an R and D levy or National Residue Survey testing over the past few years. ''This puts our reputation for su- perior industry-wide management of chemical risks at risk, and much of that has been due to investment in NRS testing,'' he said. ''Growers have been generally supportive of the levy in- crease, although the issue has pro- voked plenty of robust discussion.'' A postal vote will be sent to all levy paying members via the Australian Electoral Commission after the Ulver- stone meetings. Onions Australia will forward a submission to the Federal Agriculture Minister, who will direct his depart- ment to assess the proposal and pro- vide recommendations. The Ulverstone meetings are on November 7-9. Trouble bubbles in Hagley Pipeline JENNIFER CRAWLEY THE chief contractor for the Hag- ley Pipeline has gone bust in the final stages of the construction of the 12km pipeline. New South Wales company- Firedam went into administration two weeks ago. The administrator appointed to Firedam is Jones and Partners from Sydney. Tasmanian Irrigation Schemes (TIS) is in the process of appoint- ing another contractor to finish the Hagley job. The electrical control system is the only major work not com- pleted on the pipeline. TIS chief Adrian Paine said the organisation was holding dis- cussions with engineers to ensure the work is finished. ''We are satisfied that the work completed by Firedam is to a high standard,'' Mr Paine said. ''The Hagley Pipeline will meet the design specifications once it is completed.'' TIS holds a security deposit from the contractor. ''Our primary focus has always been getting the project finished as soon as possible, so we worked to the letter of the contract to make sure no disputes arose,'' Mr Paine said. He said two Tasmanian com- panies were responsible for build- ing three of the four Meander Dam pipelines. ''This one just happened to go to a mainland mob,'' Mr Paine said. He said TIS remained confident that the project would be com- pleted within budget. Meander Valley farmers who require irrigation water from the Hagley Pipeline this season have been reassured by TIS that it is working with the contractor to ensure that irrigation supplies will be available as soon as poss- ible. Mr Paine said the scheme was still getting strong sales for water.
October 28th 2010
November 11th 2010