SA exporters missing out on fruit fly free benefits

The Australian Government’s approach to opening new markets for food exports requires a major overhaul following revelations South Australia’s fruit fly area freedom status is not recognised by China.

Senator for South Australia Anne Ruston said South Australian orange exporters were required to cold-treat produce bound for China at a significant cost.

“A major benefit of South Australia’s fruit fly area freedom status is that produce from the State usually does not require expensive cold-treatment for export,” Senator Ruston said.

“South Australian fruit exporters usually have a significant advantage in this respect. Our status is recognised in virtually every export destination interstate and overseas, but not apparently in China.

“This is an unacceptable oversight. South Australian taxpayers contribute around $5 million a year to protect the State from fruit fly and give our growers this advantage.”

Senator Ruston said Waikerie-based citrus exporter Lochert Bros Pty Ltd was incurring cold-treatment costs of more than $7500 per shipping container for navel oranges exported to China.

“They don’t incur these costs when exporting the same produce to any other overseas market, including strict protocol markets like Japan, New Zealand and the United States,” she said.

“Growers whose oranges are exported to China also have to meet extraordinarily strict protocols for the pest Fuller’s rose weevil. I understand that meeting these protocols is just too expensive for some growers.

“Obviously there needs to be changes to how we approach market access negotiations. We need to have people at the table who understand the impact of protocols at every point along the supply chain from paddock to plate.

“We have to ensure that Australia’s well-earned reputation for the production of clean, green, safe, high-quality food confers the advantage on our farmers that it should.

“Labor continues to fail regional South Australia and continues to fail Australian farmers. If elected, the Coalition will revitalise Australian agriculture by again making it one of the five pillars of the national economy.

“We’re committed to working closely with agricultural industries to prioritise trade deals that deliver real benefits for farmers and industry based on the natural advantages Australian agriculture enjoys – our relative freedom from pests and diseases, a strong quarantine regime, best practice farming and our international reputation for safe, high-quality food.”

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