Growers’ plight aired in House

Under pressure: Perth Hills orchardist Peter Casotti. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d401462
Under pressure: Perth Hills orchardist Peter Casotti. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d401462

Canning MHR Don Randall recently aired his concerns about growers leaving the fruit industry after the Community Newspaper Group published stories about their plight.

Murray MHR Sharman Stone moved last week that the House further support the Australian food processing industry, including acknowledging the contribution of fruit growers.

Mr Randall said growers were often reminded of pressures on Australian industries, such as manufacturing, and that growers were affected by many similar problems.

He also spoke about the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) push to ban the pesticide Fenthion.

He referred to Community stories about the plight of the Byl and Casotti families living in the Perth Hills.

‘(They) have decided that enough is enough and that their best option is to leave their orchard and have it chopped up as real estate,’ he said.

Mr Randall said he was pressing new WA Minister for Agriculture and Food Ken Baston to understand the implications of a state ban on Fenthion. He said if domestic growers could not stay competitive, they would continue to abandon the fruit industry and international competitors would fill the gap.

Federal Opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb has said the Coalition’s position is not to ban Fenthion outright, but work with industry to try to establish acceptable levels of its use in controlling fruit fly.

The APVMA is awaiting the results of Fenthion residue tests on fruits before it will recommend a course of action. The delay has meant WA growers are permitted two sprays during the residue testing period, which is due to end in October.

The APVMA is expected to base its decision on this year’s residue test findings.

If the results are not provided to the authority by August, suspension of the pesticide and the WA growers’ temporary permit to use the spray is likely to continue for another year.