Labor’s Simplot pledge a positive step forward for the processing industry

The Peak Industry Body for the Australian vegetable and potato industries has today welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s pledge of $10 million towards Simplot’s vegetable growers.

Announced today, Federal Labor will invest $10 million of Federal funds and seek an additional $5 million from the Tasmanian Government and industry for Simplot’s growers as part of a reform program to make the local processing growers competitive again.

Devonport is one of Australia’s biggest vegetable processing locales, with peas and other vegetable lines prepared in the region for the frozen market.

“Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon and local Member, Sid Sidebottom, will set a standard for government, industry and business working together to propose new and better solutions,” said AUSVEG Public Affairs Manager, William Churchill.

AUSVEG is the leading voice in horticulture representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

In June, Simplot announced that it would have to consider closing down its plant in Devonport due to “poor financial returns”. Labor hopes that its reform program will allow growers to ensure they are still around to increase productivity and remain competitive.

“Food processing in this country has been on a dramatic decline, and any support, whether monetary or policy-based, is absolutely valued by Australian vegetable and potato growers.”

“We need to strengthen Australian food processing businesses to future-proof them to ensure Australia’s food security.”

“The Federal Government’s pledge is a right step forward to achieving this goal,” said Mr Churchill.

With the upcoming election on Saturday 7 September, AUSVEG urges all political parties to consider the future of the Australian food processing industry in their policies.

“We appreciate that the Coalition has offered to sit down with Simplot should it win government and investigate options for the company and encourage looking for similar funding.”

“Simply put, the future of this industry transcends politics. Whoever is elected on Saturday needs to commit themselves towards protecting the interests of Australian food manufacturing and ensuring that Australian farmers are kept on the land,” said Mr Churchill.

3 September 2013


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