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FROM THE EDITORíS DESK
Worst season in 30 years
Many stone fruit growers in South Australia's Riverland will not be able to cover their costs this year, following a horrific season with unprecedented rainfalls. The stone fruit season in the Riverland starts in early November and since that time the region has had at least four significant rain events with rainfalls of two inches or more. That is a lot more than the stone fruits and other fruit commodities can withstand.
Well known Renmark stone fruit grower Dino Cerachi, said that the last season is the worst one he had in his 30 years on the land. He estimates that on many stone fruit properties, the damage due to loss caused by the heavy rainfalls was up to 70%. As happens on the land, growers have to wait for a whole year to try and recover their losses in the next fruit season if that's any better than the one they left behind.
In a statement to local media, Mr Cerachi says that even some of the healthier growers will be forced to go if the same climatic conditions continue and calls on "the Governments to step in and offer their support as a large number of people will be in despair for a long period of time", in his own words.
The winegrape growers, on the other hand, are suffering the effects of the wet weather as well as the greed of large wineries. A large percentage of their crop is rotting on the vines after being declared (by the wineries) unfit for crushing. As for the rest of the grapes which are still suitable for the crusher, the money that the wineries have decided to pay in 2011 ($200 to $300 per ton) is much less than the cost of production and will do very little to improve the position of the growers.
On a positive note, in news that just came to hand, the Federal Govern-ment has decided to extend the exceptional circumstances assistance for the River Murray and Lower Lakes Corridor growers until 31 March 2012. The Government has to be commended for a wise decision which will help to sustain our local fruitgrowing industry and it will give struggling growers another 12 months to adjust or prepare their exit.
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