Another busy year has passed in which Growcom has been working diligently on many fronts in the horticulture sector.
We’ve faced our fair share of incidents, particularly the melon industry which was severely impacted in February after a listeria outbreak, and most recently the strawberry industry after the tampering incident. We employed a strawberry industry recovery officer with funding from the Queensland government and are working with industry and government to ensure a national, cross-jurisdictional crisis management plan is developed and implemented to address future food safety concerns.
We saw a number of big changes in advocacy and policy areas including the full implementation of the Horticulture Code, which introduced legal requirements for traders and growers to have enforceable agreements in place.
The Fair Farms Training and Certification scheme pilot also got under way in October, giving growers a mechanism to gain third-party audited certification that demonstrates their employment practices comply with Australian laws. We are grateful to the Australian government for its commitment of $1.5 million to support the program.
We also became an official member of the National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council which has given us another mechanism to take our members’ concerns to the federal government. At a state level, the Queensland Horticulture Council will soon welcome a new representative following the formation of the industry’s newest association – The Granite Belt Growers Association.
On a membership front, we entered into Memorandums of Understanding with Bundaberg Fruit & Vegetable Growers for reciprocal membership, and FNQ Growers for discounted grower membership.
In June, we again partnered with PMA-ANZ and Ausveg for the 2018 Hort Connections Conference where our chief advocate, Rachel Mackenzie, was awarded the Women in Horticulture Award. Rachel’s diplomatic approach to challenging and influencing policy is a key contributor to the strong reputation Growcom holds within the industry.
We thank our growers and supporters, including government, for giving us a platform to lay the groundwork for a thriving future for horticulture, and wish all Queenslanders a peaceful and prosperous happy New Year.