How cherry picking trade deals flows on to the farmgate

How cherry picking trade deals flows on to the farmgate

Politics
LOCAL BENEFIT: Central West cherry farm Danny Kapatos picks fruit at the Borrodell Vineyard's cherry orchard. Photo: Jude Keogh

LOCAL BENEFIT: Central West cherry farm Danny Kapatos picks fruit at the Borrodell Vineyard's cherry orchard. Photo: Jude Keogh

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It's a long way from the cherry orchards of the Central West to the international bargaining tables, but the two are inescapably linked.

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IT'S a long way from the cherry orchards of the NSW Central West to the international bargaining tables, where trade deals are hammered out, but the two are inescapably linked.

Assistant Trade Minister Andrew Gee highlighted the struggle and recent breakthrough of the region's cherry industry to demonstrate how the nation's trade deals have a tangible effect on what happens at the farmgate, at the ABARES Outlook conference..

For a long time, mainland Australian cherry growers weren't able to get their product to foreign markets quickly due to fruit flies and were forced to put them in cold storage for weeks, leaving them past their prime.

"The Central West use to have hundreds of orchards, but now we're down to about 30," Mr Gee said.

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By working with international trade partners, the government nutted out an agreement that cherries put through irradiation or fumigation would be accepted into high-demand markets like China.

That breakthrough was made in 2017 and Mr Gee said the benefits were starting to show.

"This last cherry season, December through to January, was the first time the Central West area has actually seen an upsurge in export interest," he said.

"That's really important because it gets our growers away from relying on the pricing set by big supermarkets, which is something our growers have been complaining about for a long time."

"For the first time you're actually seeing farmers planting cherry trees, because they can see a future in it. This is how important that is.

"This is not just an abstract notion, this is delivering real, tangible results on the ground."

Mr Gee said the government planned to rapidly expand trade opportunities for farmers in the next two years.

"In just five years, free trade agreements increased from covering 26 per cent of Australian's two-way trade to covering roughly 70 per cent," he said.

"We're looking to increase this to around 90 per cent by 2022, with the new trade deals finalised with Hong Kong, Peru and negotiations currently on the way the European Union."

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