Growers air fears

Fruit growers John Gregorovich and Wally Gava say they can no longer make a living off the land. d399283
Fruit growers John Gregorovich and Wally Gava say they can no longer make a living off the land. d399283

About 100 landowners and orchardists gathered last Wednesday at the Kalamunda Town Hall to hear a range of speakers discuss options for the Draft Hills Rural Study.

A forum conducted by the Shire of Kalamunda included representatives from the Department of Agriculture, shire planning officers and Department of Fire and Emergency Services officers.

Orchardists could ask questions and state their positions as they discussed the myriad issues affecting local growers.

Third-generation orchar-dist John Gregorovich said because of the pressures on growers, they would leave the area whether there was sub-division or not.

Mr Gregorovich is also a member of the Hills Orchard Study Review group.

He would like to see farmers be able to sell 5ha lots from their land to plough money back into the business.

‘The problem is we don’t know if there is a future for fruit growers anymore or not,’ Mr Gregorovich said.

Representing the Agriculture Department was David Winter, who had travelled from Bunbury for the forum.

‘We intend to maintain capacity for future investment for agriculture when we look at things like subdivision proposals,’ he said.

Canning Mills fruit grower Danny Dimarco said there would not be any industry or investment for fruit growers unless the issue of suitable pesticides for fruit fly was resolved.

‘The fruit is spoiled before we can pick it,’ he said.

Mr Winter said the department was guided by State Planning Policy 2.5 regarding land in a rural zone.

He said in the past sub-|division had been good for growers if they wanted to get out, but not if they wanted to grow their business.

Shire of Kalamunda chief executive Rhonda Hardy and President Sue Bilich were at the meeting and supportive of growers.

Submissions will be sought from the public on the Hills Rural Study until February 14. Forms are available at the Shire office and libraries or online.