Victorian Strawberry Growers Association AGM 2014

November 7, 2014

The Victorian Strawberry Growers Association (VSGA) held their 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 10th of October at T&G Farms in Silvan South.

The meeting was well attended by more than 35 VSGA members, the turnout was more impressive given it was a bright clear day with very low winds right before the season commenced.

The meeting had all the hallmarks of any AGM. Previous minutes were moved and seconded, key reports tabled and accepted, and office bearers called for and previous re-elected. However, the AGM was also opened up for presentations to members by key service providers and representatives.

First cab off the rank was Industry Development Officer, Jason Hingston. Jason discussed results of the recently conducted Industry Development Review and the impacts this will have on the way the Victorian Strawberry Industry Development Committee (VSIDC) communicates with growers and stakeholders. He also gave an update on the soil disease Macrophomina phasolina (Charcoal Rot) and what the VSIDC is doing about it.

Felicity Collins from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) spoke next on chemical use within the strawberry industry. She spoke on how much the industry has changed over the past 4 to 5 years since intensive residue monitoring was commenced. The major highlight was the decline in residue violations, with only one occurring during last season.

Efficient Solutions were next to address VSGA members. They spoke about the ability of solar energy systems to offset rising power costs, as well as methods that can used to finance the solar infrastructure and installation costs included to expected pay-back time.

Julian Horsley from AND Scales followed on from Richard and Jack. Julian spoke about some new technology from AND Scales that makes identifying over and under-weight punnets of packed strawberries easier and quicker. This scale technology and the savings it can make are discussed more in the article on pages 8 and 9.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) was represented by Lis Blandamer how gave an update on the activities of the VFF and changes to are occurring in regulations and industrial relations. Lis also talked about the possibility of fair work again auditing Victorian strawberry farms in a similar fashion to what was undertaken last season.

NAB followed on from Lis, and spoke about some of their new product offerings and extended on discussions about how NAB can help with finance for funding solar energy installations.

The final speaker of the day was Tony Fay from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. Tony spoke on the activities and importance of the VSIDC. Tony also discussed with growers present the activities that the VSIDC can undertake and the differences between it and the VSGA.

Once the presentations were complete, attendees embarked on a tour of the farm. The allowed growers and service providers to ask questions and have discussions in a more informal and relaxed setting.

The VSGA would like to thank all the speakers for their involvement in the day, as well as Tony and Grace Molluso for kindly hosting the AGM and opening up their farm for the farm-walk.