Making News this week

Farm Gate Bill continues momentum

Major supermarkets will be forced to reveal how much they pay farmers and growers for fresh produce under the proposed new laws before parliament. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon introduced the legislation into the Senate on tuesday requiring major supermarkets to display the price returned to the grower alongside the retail price for fresh produce. ‘Farmers and growers deserve to get fair prices for their produce and consumers deserve to know what they’re paying for,’ Senator Xenophon told the chamber.

According to his bill, the farm gate or producer price is the average price received by producers for a product over a 12 month period – thereby taking into account seasonal fluctuations. Supermarkets which did not provide the information to consumers would be subject to an infringement notice or court order from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Debate on the Constitutional Corporations (Farm Gate to Plate) Bill 2011 was adjourned.

Weather Ideal for Cherry Crops

A Riverland cherry grower says it has been an ideal winter for trees to set good crops. Leon Cotsaris from Renmark has also commented that it has been the best winter in a couple of seasons and flowering has been even and abundant.
‘Cherries require a minimum number of hours of chill during winter, otherwise they just don’t push out those flowers.’ he said. ‘This year it’s much more compact and that indicates that we’ve met all the environmental factors for normal flowering’.

Last year, South Australian crops were all but wiped out by rain during harvest so South Australian growers are crossing their fingers for a good season this year.

The Australian cherry season extends from November, in most mainland States, through to late February in Tasmania, with the majority of the crops harvested during December and January in most areas. Supplies of cherries are limited during the early and late parts of the season so make sure you take advantage of juicy cherries in December andJanuary. This is also when they are the most reasonably priced too!

The Sydney Markets Cherry Auction will be held at Sydney Markets on 9th November this year. Last years first box of cherries fetched a massive $110,000 as Sydney Markets wholesalers and workers, including ProFruit, rallied together to buy the first box in honour of the late Sam Agostino. Mr Agostino, founder of the Freshworld greengrocer chain, regularly won the first box of cherries for the season. In 2006 he paid $55,000 for the season’s first cherries, which was the record winning bid until last year.

The annual Cherry Auction at Sydney Markets marks the official start to the cherry season. It has raised more than $1 million for charities since it began 32 years ago when the first box was won for $65.

Large demand for Sumo mandarins

Citrus growers across four states are keen to get their hands on a new variety of Japanese mandarin. Sumo citrus is currently only grown in the Riverina in south-west NSW. Frank Mercuri controls the rights to the variety and has said the only way to keep up with the demand for this large, easy to peel mandarin was to release it to the industry.

It has taken 10 years for Frank Mercuri and a team of growers to produce enough Sumo mandarins to sell commercially. In 2001 Mr Mercuri visited Japan and tasted the Sumo mandarin, deciding he wanted to bring the sumo to Australia. After shipping a plant to Australia and it surviving two years of quarantine, he started to create an orchard of Sumo trees.

Mr Mercuri said the feedback he’d received from Sumo mandarins was very positive so hopefully we’ll see more of them on the market next year!