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TAS Country : May 24th 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012 Tasmanian Country 9 News Bureau needs rain gauge checkers From Page 3 something that was passed down through the generations. ''We've got some families who have been doing it for over 100 years,'' he said. ''What it's very good for is people that have their own rain gauge and have that interest anyway.'' If people agree to be an official volunteer rain observer, someone from the bureau will visit their property and install a rain gauge and teach the person how to use it. Mr Riley said it was important the rain gauge was installed correctly to ensure the readings were not affected by nearby vegetation or buildings. The rain gauges are checked every day at 9am to get a 24-hour rainfall total. The information is then recorded on a form which is posted in to the bureau once a month. Mr Riley said some rain recorders also chose to lodge their rainfall information each day. Jane Taylor and her husband Ewan have been recording rainfall on their Campbell Town property Greenhill for many years. It is a tradition that was started by Ewan's father Alan. Mrs Taylor said it was not a difficult job. ''Our rain gauge is quite close to the house, so it only takes me about 30 seconds to check it,'' she said. ''It's not very difficult and it can be quite interesting.'' Mrs Taylor said as farmers, having an idea of weather patterns that may occur regularly over the years could also come in handy. ''You do see patterns when you look back through the records and that can be quite helpful when it comes to poppy plant- ing and things like that,'' she said.'' Mrs Taylor said if they had to go away from the farm they got someone else to check the gauge for them. The bureau sends out a calender to each of its rain recorders every year. ''The calender they send out is absolutely beautiful and it has a lot of interesting information in it too,'' Mrs Taylor said. Rainfall observers who have been doing the job for decades also receive a special presentation on their 50-year anniversary. Areas the bureau is currently want- ing to recruit rainfall observers in are located across the state. In the north they need rainfall observers at Preolenna, Devonport City, Rocky Cape or Sisters Beach or Boat Harbour, Greens Beach, Natone or Upper Natone Ridgely, Milabena, Sprent, Beulah or Lower Beulah, Turners Marsh, Trowutta, Beechford, Gunns Plains and Tomahawk town- ship. In the east they are looking for observers at The Gardens (Bay of Fires), Gray, St Marys and Triabunna. In the state's west the bureau would like recorders at Strahan and Trial Harbour while in central Tasmania observers are needed at Royal George and Rossarden. In the south observers are needed at Franklin, Judbury, Glen Huon, Bel- lerive, Lindisfarne, Saltwater River, White Beach or Nubeena, Dunalley township, Murdunna, Nichols Rivulet, Verona Sands/Garden Island Creek and Southport township. Mr Riley said recorders in any remote areas, especially in the western half of the state were always welcome. Anyone interested in becoming a rainfall observer should contact the Bureau of Meteorology at tasrain- firstname.lastname@example.org. Contract stress for growers McCain's approach criticised KAROLIN MacGREGOR MIKE BADCOCK: Growers may think of leaving the industry. THERE are fears a decision by McCain to abandon the collective bargaining system for this year's processing potato contracts could force some Tasmanian growers out of the industry. The company announced this week that when it comes to contract nego- tiations on tonnages and prices, it would now deal with growers only on an individual basis. Farmers who agree to grow a crop for the company must also sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from talking about the tonnage or price details of their contract. About 40 growers in the state supplied processing potatoes to McCain last season. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association vegetable council chair- man Andrew Craigie said it was a disappointing approach by the com- pany. ''The collective bargaining pro- cess has been in place for over 30 years, so this is unprecedented,'' he said. ''From the growers I've spoken to, some have been approached by the company and others -- who are very good growers -- haven't, and they're feeling shattered.'' Mr Craigie said as well as nego- tiating on price, the growers' representative committees also worked with the company to improve productivity through the introduction of new cultivars and communicating with growers about the company's needs. ''A big part of it was maintaining that relationship with the company and being able to get information out to the growers,'' he said. '' The process they are using now is certainly not open and transparent.'' Sustainable Agricultural Communi- ties Australia spokesman and long- time vegetable grower Mike Badcock said after already suffering the loss of major McCain vegetable contracts in the past couple of years, this latest move would be a huge blow. ''It's really another nail in the coffin of Australian agriculture because this sets a precedent, and if other major processing companies decide to do this we're going to be in real trouble,'' he said. McCain has defended it's decision, saying imports of cheaper potato products mean it does not need as many Australian growers. ''You've got to sit back and look at why these companies have ended up in this situation, and that's because cheap, imported food has been allowed to flood in,'' Mr Badcock said. After a difficult couple of seasons due to bad weather and an oversupply of product this year, many Tasmanian vegetable growers are already strug- gling to make ends meet. ''The mood out there is already so despondent and there are a lot of farms on the markets,'' Mr Badcock said. ''I think after this some people will just want to get out. ''The growers here are very efficient -- we've invested in the best technology we can and done everything that's been required of us, but it's impossible to compete against imports when it's not a level playing field and they are producing products with subsidies and not under the same regulatory requirements we have to operate under here.'' A meeting of all McCain potato growers will be held in the next week to discuss the issue. Mr Craigie said as far as he was aware, no growers had yet signed supply contracts with the company. Great cars, Great prices. 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