A more representative industry structure, better resourced market access efforts and urgent steps to prepare for and deal with biosecurity issues are key recommendations in a report on the Australian citrus industry tabled in Federal Parliament today.
Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said the report on a review of the industry conducted by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee earlier this year found that while the citrus industry faced numerous challenges they were not insurmountable.
“This season has been an improvement in some respects, however it’s clear the Australian citrus industry has struggled in recent years,” Senator Ruston said.
“In addition to problems beyond the industry’s control like the high dollar and rising costs of production, structural problems have resulted in industry disunity and fragmentation. This is a barrier to efforts the industry must undertake to meet some serious challenges.
“These include biosecurity threats such as Huanglongbing (citrus greening) and fruit fly, and competition in domestic and export markets with countries with much lower costs of production.”
Senator Ruston said that while the future of the industry was essentially in its own hands, the report also had recommendations for the Australian Government.
“The review found regulation and compliance costs, as well as difficulties with market access, were also key issues impacting on growers’ profitability and these – along with biosecurity matters – can be acted upon by the Government,” she said.
“The Abbott Government has already anticipated some of these recommendations in its agricultural policy, providing an additional $20 million to biosecurity, fast tracking trade negotiations such as the recently announced Korea-Australia FTA, and providing $15 million in rebates to small and emerging exporters.
“The committee also noted there were some great opportunities for the industry going forward, for example growing Asian markets, however it needs to overcome its disunity and work together to take advantage of these opportunities and create a sustainable future.”