by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
TAS Country : March 8th 2012
4 Tasmanian Country Friday, March 9, 2012 News Sensing the KAROLIN MacGREGOR ONLINE: Farmers will be able to study the microclimate for their area. TASMANIAN farmers will soon have access to valu- able weather and climate information online thanks to the new Sensing Tas- mania network. The SenseT network is being partly funded by the Federal Government as part of the Intergovern- mental Agreement on forestry. The $40 million program is being run though the University of Tasmania, the CSIRO and the State Government. A network of sensors have been placed around the state of Tasmania, re- cording a variety of infor- mation from temperatures though to wind speed, sea conditions and even soil carbon content. Now through the SenseT program farmers will be able to access data col- lected through the sensor network. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis said the program was just an- other example of farmers making the most of new technology. ''Our mantra at the TFGA has been that the times, they are a' chang- ing,'' she said. ''We are modern farmers Challenging times for fruit growers ROGER HANSON One family orchard is getting creative INNOVATION and a strong desire to protect family heritage drive a Huon Valley apple and cherry fruit grower -- but he has a major fight on his hands when it comes to selling his fruit. Andrew Smith is a fourth-generation fruit grower on a 55ha orchard at Grove in southern Tasmania. ''I am custodian of this farm, and we are fighting for our business to main- tain what has been built up since my great-grandfather,'' Mr Smith said. His great-grandfather, William Smith, starting growing fruit at Glen Huon, followed by Ron Smith, who established the existing orchard at Grove, then Andrew's father Ian Smith. ''My father was a progressive fruit grower, and I learnt from him,'' he said. Now the orchard grows 50ha of mostly Royal Gala, Fuji and Pink Lady apples, and 5ha of cherries. However, Mr Smith said, the fight was on to compete with imports. ''We need to be able to compete with the rest of the world,'' he said. ''At the moment, a container of apples can be landed into Sydney from overseas cheaper than us because of inter- national shipping rates. ''Bass Strait is supposed to be treated like a highway. Freight equalisation must be reviewed and increased so we can compete with international and other domestic producers. ''Freight is our biggest cost, and to have those additional costs without having the ability to increase our sale price will hurt.'' Mr Smith said increased compliance was reflected in extra costs. ''The agricultural industry is fight- ing to survive layered government bureaucracy costs,'' he said. Mr Smith fears things will only get worse for producers and Tasmanian small business. ''At the same time as tighten- ing compliance, the Government is opening up the market under the banner of free trade. It is not a sustainable position,'' he said. the combination of the carbon tax, Victorian ports charge and expected fuel surcharge hikes would increase his freight costs by $70,000 a year, an increase of about 7 per cent. Mr Smith urges politicians to listen and act for all small businesses in the state. ''Otherwise, we will not be able to compete and we are out of here and further jobs will be lost,'' he said. ''Wages have increased, and now our Prime Minister is deregulating the market. ''You cannot receive a pay rise if you do not have a job.'' In the apple-picking season Mr Smith's orchard employs 26 staff, of whom five are permanent and seven permanent casuals. Dur- ing the picking season, backpac- kers and local casuals boost numbers. Mr Smith said that in a 20-year period, more than 900 apple growers had left the industry. ''The competition for retail space and the fact that we are gradually losing our export markets to cheaper- producing countries, with a much lower standard of compliance and wages, is burying producers,'' he said. ''We are no different from other small businesses, except a primary producer has the weather and ex- change rate risk.'' He said an accelerated depreciation on new equipment would help the primary producer. ''It would help so we can improve our efficiencies to stay in the industry, continue to employ people and stay in regional Tasmania. Otherwise, we will go bust and we are all out of here. ''I urge our local government rep- resentatives to field our calls for the sake of all small businesses in Tas- mania.'' Mr Smith is doing all he can to remain competitive. He has invested heavily in upgrading the packing shed, branding and im- Energy Efficiency Grants As part of the Government s plan for a clean energy future, a set of new energy efficiency grants programs are now open to help Australians become smarter with their energy use in different sectors of the community. These programs include: The Community Energy Efficiency Program - first round Applications close 23 March 2012. • Provides $200 million of co-funding to support local councils, non-profit organisations and communities to increase energy efficiency in council buildings, community facilities and lighting etc. The Low Income Energy Efficiency Program - first round Expressions of Interest close 16 March 2012. • Provides $100 million for consortia of government, community welfare organisations, and energy companies to develop and evaluate different approaches to help low income households to become smarter with their energy use. The Energy Efficiency Information Grants - first round Applications close 16 March 2012. • Provide $40 million to help industry associations and non-profit organisations provide tailored information to small and medium businesses and community organisations. For more information or to download program guidelines, visit www.climatechange.gov.au Regional and rural councils needing assistance in preparing applications should contact the Department on Ph: 1800 830 922 AG60516
February 23rd 2012
March 15th 2012