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TAS Country : December 9th 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010 Tasmanian Country 5 News Survey to define the cost of quality EXPERIENCED: Allison Clark says QA is not just about whether a product tastes good. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES JENNIFER CRAWLEY 'To be a good producer you have to continually raise the bar. Everything has to be seen to be done ethically and sustainably.' FARMERS will get a chance to say what they think about Quality Assur- ance (QA) and food safety in a national survey this month. The survey is the brainchild of Tasmanian company TQA Australia's boss, Jane Lovell, who hopes it will prove once and for all how much food safety costs. Ms Lovell said growers believed QA cost too much money. ''That's the nub of it,'' she said. Ms Lovell, who has helped producers with QA for more than 12 years, said the common theme growers spoke about was the cost of putting QA systems in place, running them and looking after them. ''This survey will show us what the actual costs are and growers can make decisions based on that information,'' she said. ''All supermarkets and food proces- sors require growers to have QA systems. ''The retailers drive the supply chain with the processors and packhouses in the middle and the growers at the bottom. ''QA is not only driven by domestic markets, overseas markets have strin- gent demands too.'' Ms Lovell said a grower on the North-West Coast might have to estab- lish a QA system to get their product into Europe. ''They might even have to have two systems depending on where it is going.'' Ms Lovell said giant food service companies like McDonald's and Hungry Jacks also had QA require- ments in place. ''All of us are trying to produce safe food but there are a lot of systems out there and there can be slight differ- ences between the systems. ''Some customers won't accept some- body else's system, you add regulation on top of that and AQUIS on top of that -- it can get pretty ugly.'' TQA Australia hopes to paint a realistic picture of QA processes and costs and use the information to streamline processes in a multi-layered system. The company asked all commodity groups to review the survey before it was released. Peak industry group HAL supports the project and 60 other commodity groups have been involved. ''You can deal with issues if you are dealing with the facts'' Ms Lovell said. ''We are not pushing any agenda, not bagging out the retailers and not trying to defend them to the producers. We just want to know what that number is.''Allison Clark knows a thing or two about QA. She is responsible for customer relations and QA at Houston's Farm, a Tasmanian agri-business success story that supplies pre-packed, washed salad mixes to 1200 supermarkets through- out Australia. And Ms Clark chairs the TQA board. She said consumers often gave re- tailers signals which in many cases were regarded as ''intangible''. ''Then it's up to the grower to act on those signals,'' she said. ''QA is not just about whether a product tastes good. ''It's whether it's 'food safe' and what the consumer expects it to be. We have to use that in the way we grow and market our product. ''To be a good producer you have to continually raise the bar. Everything has to be seen to be done ethically and sustainably.'' Growers and processors can com- plete the survey via the TQA website or by phoning 1300 853 508. Tamar on alert for serrated tussock KAROLIN MacGREGOR TAMAR Valley residents are being warned to be on the lookout for one of the country's worst weeds after serrated tussock was found in the area for the first time. A small infestation of the potentially devastating weed was discovered on a farm in the East Tamar last week and reported to Tamar Natural Resource Management. The landowner is now working with the Department of Primary Industries Parks Water and Environment weeds section on an eradication strategy. The discovery comes just one week after Tamar NRM launched an awareness program about serrated tussock. After last week's discovery, Tamar NRM has also been working with the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association Tamar Valley branch to organise a search for the weed and a letterbox-drop on roads in the East Tamar area. Tamar NRM president Ian Sauer said it was clear the awareness strategy was effective. ''If there is anything positive about this find, then clearly the awareness raising last week is working and has people looking on their land,'' he said. Serrated tussock is a highly invasive weed that, once established, is extremely difficult to eradicate. It can take over grazing areas very quickly and causes major production and stock losses. ''Serrated tussock is a declared weed of national significance, a weed that we don't want in the Tamar Valley, nor can we afford it,'' Mr Sauer said. To find out more about serrated tussock, phone Tamar NRM on 6323 3310 or go online to www.tamar-nrm.org.au 1300 654 142 www.polarisindustries.com.au *Offer ends 31/12/10 or while stocks last at authorised participating Australian Polaris dealers. Not valid with any other offer. Additional freight may be payable in NT, Central/North QLD & Rural WA. F I ' F I FREE HELMET & SAFETY WHIP FLAG AW 50 $2,3 5* I AWA Unique adjustable footwell height for years of riding. AW 0 $2, 5* I AWA Unlike most competitors it has reverse gear so your not always pulling them out of a corner! 170 $5, 5* I AWA The world's first youth Side-by-Side. I 200 $4, 5* I AWA Practical, tough, low-maintenance. The perfect entry-level sports ATV.
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