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TAS Country : January 5th 2012
20 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 6, 2012 Opinion One Tassie logo to market them all CHEWS theFAT David Byard IN December 2008, the then state minister for agriculture David Llewel- lyn announced the creation of a vegie industry marketing committee (VIMC). This was a forward-thinking stra- tegic move; its purpose was to lead the implementation of the Tasmanian veg- etable industry strategic plan --- some- thing that was long overdue. The VIMC had the responsibility for overseeing investment in projects to achieve the objectives set out in the plan. The committee identified three priorities: Build brand benefits for Tasman- ian vegetables by supporting the Taste is in our Nature campaign, testing brands and supporting brand promotions. Develop products and delivery systems by supporting and demonstrat- ing projects. Develop a useful industry market- ing tool kit. It must be remembered that there has been a great deal of money spent on the vegetable industry prior to VIMC. This whole VIMC project had a budget of about $850,000. Since the initiative was announced, the awareness of Tasmanian veg- etables has risen and the Taste in our Nature slogan can be seen on vans, while logos and artworks have been developed. I must confess I am a little bit biased when we come to logos; my feeling is that we need one logo that all Tasmanians and buyers of Tasmanian produce can recognise. Brand Tasmania has spent huge amounts of money on logos and on its' brand. To me, Tasmania is not big enough to have multiple brands, it needs one well recognised brand that underpins our produce, gives confidence to buyers, and financial returns to producers. At a forum recently, I asked how many people recognised Brand Tas- mania's logo. Sadly the silence was deafening. When I asked the same question about McDonalds everybody put their hands up. With 500,000 people in Tasmania, surely we should be able to get everybody to recognise one logo. If we can't then we are surely doing some- thing wrong. Those on the VIMC feel their cam- paign has raised awareness of Tasman- ian products. Knowing some of the people on this committee and their commitment towards the vegetable industry I have no doubt this is correct, however $850,000 is still a lot of money, and we need to demonstrate a return on this investment. I am told that the committee worked closely with Coles and Woolworths and big processing companies and after promoting sales in Sydney they had a 5 per cent increase in sales. This is good but needs to continue. Last month, we saw the last meeting of VIMC as the funding has now run out. Tasmanian farmers should be con- cerned and be asking the simple question, who will now ensure the integrity of Tasmanian product? What we do know is that busy successful farmers are always planting, harvesting and tending crops, and the farmers involved in things like VIMC really need a medal. However, other farmers who are equally as committed to branding a Tasmanian product, met with govern- ment departments, DED, TIAR and DPI prior to the last Budget. It was decided to put a Budget submission to the Government calling for a new single brand for all Tasman- ian products, whether it is for veg- etables, meat or dairy. One of the bigger producers offered to fund the writing of the submission. However, a senior member of the DED said the department would do it in- stead. Getting towards the date for the closure of the budget submissions --- in fact two days before --- the DED did a back-flip, saying staff were too busy and could not get the submission done. The producers managed to get a last- minute extension and paid for the submission to be done themselves. It was a lost effort. In the climate of economic doom it was accepted that the submission would not be funded. However there was much surprise when the government allocated $300,000 towards a marketing project to encourage Tasmanians to buy home- grown products. The producers group was not in- formed and in fact were not aware of it until tenders were advertised. Meanwhile, the same producers have spoken to a large meat processor, MLA, retailers, and the DED and the idea is to have a Tassie gold brand for meat which would be under the MSA umbrella to give it integrity. This would mean that audits would be done by the MLA to ensure consist- ency of meat quality and the MLA may help with advertising. It is not rocket science that Tasman- ian produce is unique for a variety of reasons. We need to capitalise on that, and make sure it is sought after by as many people as possible. Part of the strategy of making people aware is the use of a universally recognised brand. We do have Brand Tasmania, but it is not hitting the mark. The Government has to ensure that we have a brand that builds confidence --- one that is well recognised and trusted. What we don't need is govern- ment officials dithering around the edges. David Byard is chief executive officer for the Australian Beef Associ- ation. Learn to stand on own feet Rural Youth REWARDING: Rural Youth's Agfest Field Days aimed to be self-sufficient after government funding cuts in the 1980s. TASMANIA is in the grip of the summer social season and it seems with this comes the complaints from some community groups that their events are not financially viable with- out government funding. The Rural Youth organisation holds Agfest Field Days each year and with the ever-increasing costs of running public events, the organisation under- stands that community events are having a tough time. There is never enough money in the budget for all the events, attractions and additions you dream of providing for your patrons and each year the cost of essential consumables rise. However, events need to stand on their own feet in good years and plan for the bad years. In these strained economic times, is it wise for any community organis- ation to use threats of closure as a means to gain more money? The Falls Festival is a great event; it provides a venue for young people to see bands of a high calibre that may not otherwise visit Tasmania, but is it more important than hospital funding? Threats of closure must surely be a last resort, after the committee has cut expenses to a minimum and considered all possible revenue streams. The Falls Festival in Tas- mania has demanded $350,000 in fund- ing for an event that was expected to attract 16,000 patrons -- this funding equates to just over $21 per patron. The Falls Festival continues to be successful, with tickets sold out and good weather keeping patrons on site, and so this funding request seems to be more about ongoing funding for basic needs rather than to cover costs after a less successful year. Has the committee first considered increasing entry costs to cover the increased expenses, or is the first port of call a government handout? Nurses' contracts will not be re- newed, our health system is being forced to severely tighten its financial belt and it is now that the Falls Festival chooses to serve up this ultimatum of ''fund us or we close''. Rural Youth started the Agfest Field Days to be financially self-sufficient after government funding cuts in the 1980s. It isn't an easy road being self- sufficient, but it is a rewarding one. Community events today should be grateful that our Government has previously supported them --- Falls included --- rather than continually demanding more handouts before tightening their own budgeting belts. Young people in Tasmania need a range of social events, especially those living in the rural community where such events can be limited. As a community we should continue to support our local events and fight to keep them here --- but not at the expense of our hospital funding. KATIE CRANE Rural Youth Promotions Director
December 22nd 2011
January 13th 2012