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From the Editor's Desk
Disturbing new stories have emerged as this year's horror grape season is drawing closer to the end, with huge volumes of shiraz and other winegrape varieties being rejected by the Berri winery - a former grower co-operative which is now owned and operated by the multinational Constellation Wines.
Angry Riverland growers claim that the winery refused to take their grapes earlier in the season when they were still in good condition and failed to warn them about the rejection in time for them to look for other buyers. Now, they are having their grapes rejected at the weigh bridge after they have gone to the expense of harvesting and delivering them to the winery.
The winery claimed that the grapes, after a few warm days, had gone very suddenly, from being very low in sugar to very high in sugar and are, therefore, unsuitable for the crusher.
Riverland Winegrape Growers' Association secretary, Chris Byrne, has urged wine grape growers, who fulfilled their obligations under the contract with the winery and had their grapes rejected, to look at the option of taking legal action.
The question is, however, what chances does a broke grower have in a legal fight against a multi-billion dollar multinational?
Riverland MP Tim Whetstone, on the other hand, says that "if a winery accepts fruit on the fruit property then it should be accepted at the weigh bridge". He condemns the way the growers are being treated but believes we are bound by decisions of a free trade world market and that's where it all ends.
In these circumstances, we ask: How can our growers compete and how can they survive? We believe the Governments have an obligation to the people they are elected to serve, to step in and tell these corporations that their cowboy tactics are totally unacceptable and explain to them the fair way of doing business in Australia.
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