Fruit growers across New South Wales have added reasons to smile following two significant announcements in as many weeks.
Australian-grown peaches, plums, apricots, table-grapes and cherries will have improved access to the lucrative Chinese market following the agreement of a market access arrangement between the Australian and Chinese governments.
And this month, the Fair Work Commission clarified the operation of the ‘farm gate’ in the Horticulture Award, ensuring that all picking and packing operations are paid under a consistent industrial agreement, regardless of where the exercise takes place.
NSW Farmers Horticulture Committee chair, Brett Guthrey, said horticulture growers welcomed these important announcements.
“Cherry growers are particularly delighted that, after years of painstaking negotiations, the Chinese authorities have agreed to allow fresh mainland Australian fruit into their country”, Mr Guthrey said. “New South Wales fruit growers stand to benefit from the enormous opportunities created by the signing of this agreement. With cherry season now in full swing, growers have an added reason to have confidence in the future of their industry.”
“NSW Farmers has long advocated for improved market access for our member farmers; this issue was a key concern raised by growers at our Annual General Meeting in July. We are encouraged that these discussions have borne fruit just in time for Christmas.”
Mr Guthrey also welcomed the decision by the Fair Work Commission in the case involving employers in the horticulture industry. “The decision of the Fair Work Commission to view the concept of the farm gate as being a virtual rather than physical entity provides certainty to growers picking and packing fruit this coming harvest season.”
“The Commission has accurately noted that all work pre-customer involving the preparation of orchards, picking of fruit and the sorting and packing of fruit ready for commercial sale should be covered by the Horticulture Award. This decision gets the balance right and will be widely welcomed by growers.”