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TAS Country : December 9th 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010 Tasmanian Country 3 News Vegetable struggle a downer JENNIFER CRAWLEY CHIN UP: Greg Bott TASMANIAN farmers are less confi- dent about the future and expect conditions to worsen, says the latest Rabobank rural survey. Sheep and dairy farmers are the most confident and vegetable farmers the least. Input costs and the strong Australian dollar are the biggest downers, the 1200 farmers who were surveyed through- out Australia said. In Tasmania, 67 per cent of primary producers expected the agricultural economy to improve or stay the same over the next 12 months. This was well down on the 75 per cent last quarter. Rabobank regional manager for Tasmania Greg Bott said it was disappointing that con- fidence could not be maintained, but con- ditions in the state were generally favour- able. ''The rain we've had over winter and spring has been consistent, significant and widespread,'' he said. ''Livestock and dairy producers are well-positioned heading into summer because sub-soil moisture profiles are strong and pasture growth has been steady.'' The rain this season has not caused the same damage the rain did in 2009, Mr Bott said. But increased electricity prices have affected many producers. ''The strong Australian dollar is an additional constraint said 42 per cent of farmers, who expected conditions to decline over the next 12 months.'' Sentiment within most sectors is positive despite being negative at an overall level, Mr Bott said. ''It's clear that vegetable producers are having a significant influence on the state's overall rural confidence,'' he said. ''Sentiment is weak in this sector because prices are down.'' The strong Australian dollar has made substitute imports more attract- ive and the ''partial exit'' of McCain has reduced competition among the major vegetable processors, Mr Bott said. The Rabobank sur- vey said 30 per cent of Tasmanian respon- dents expected to see improved perform- ance over the next 12 months with their own businesses, and 9 per cent were expect- ing business perform- ance to worsen. The result was better than farmers' perception of the overall agricul- tural economy, Mr Bott said. ''This indicates a healthy level of under- lying confidence in the sector, which is shown by an improvement in investment inten- tions,'' Mr Bott said. A total of 91 per cent of respondents expected to increase or maintain the current level of investment in their farm businesses in the next 12 months, compared with 89 per cent last quarter. Tasmanian farmers reported higher incomes over the last three months. A total of 44 per cent reported higher incomes compared to the same period in the previous year and 14 per cent reported lower incomes. SPECIAL DELIVERY: Perfecta Produce director Darren Broadby with packaged cherries ready for postage at Ulverstone. Picture: CHRIS KIDD Cherries ripe for bumper season KAROLIN MacGREGOR CHERRY harvest season is almost here and Tasmanian growers are hoping for an uneventful season. Harvest season is always a nerve- racking time for cherry growers, when 12 months of work can be ruined by a single weather event. However, after good spring rains, crops around the state are looking promising. Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Lucy Gregg said the harvest was running a little late this year after cool and wet weather through spring. ''The growers I've talked to have said it's anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks later than usual,'' she said. ''The cooler weather is the main reason, but it's been an excellent season so far because growers haven't had to irrigate.'' The harvest of early cherry varieties and highly valuable Japanese export varieties is expected to get under way in the next week. Ms Gregg said forecasts of more rain over the coming week were a concern. ''At this stage the [weather] bureau is forecasting more rain for the next couple of weeks and they're also saying we could get higher than average summer rainfall, so that is a concern for growers,'' she said. ''[But] the beauty of Tasmania is we have so many different growing areas that even if some growers are affected by weather, there will be other areas that aren't.'' Last season Tasmania grew about 3600 tonnes of cherries. About 1200 tonnes were sold into export markets and the rest was sold into the Australian domestic market. Ms Gregg said 5-10 per cent of the state's crop was also bought by Tasmanians and much of that was through farm-gate sales. She said that in the short to medium term, the aim was to develop overseas markets so that eventually 50 per cent of the state's total production would be exported. Ms Gregg, who also heads the Cherry Growers of Australia marketing and promotions committee, said for the first time cherries would be promoted as part of a nationwide campaign, which started last week. The Love Summer Love Cherries campaign features well-known nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume and focuses on encouraging people to buy and eat more cherries. As part of the 10-week campaign, customers who buy 250g or more of cherries in the one transaction can win a weekly prize of $1000, or daily prizes of $100. To find out more about the health benefits of cherries or the competition, log on to www.lovesummerlove cherries.com.au 1300 654 142 www.polarisindustries.com.au BUY ONE GET ONE FREE# #Conditions apply. See www.polarisindustries.com.au for details. Offer ends 31/12/10 or while stocks last at participating Australian Polaris dealers. Excludes Fleet Buyers. Not valid with any other offer (except 2010 Ranger 500). For a limited time only, when you purchase a new Polaris ATV 549cc & above or Ranger 498cc & above at a participating dealer, you ll get an Outlaw 50 (value $2,395) for the kids FREE! If you don t want the Outlaw 50, take $2,395 off the price of any additional new Polaris vehicle.#
December 2nd 2010
December 16th 2010