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Littleproud pledges $1.75m for apple, pear producers

Funding: Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud was in Ardmona on Wednesday. Photo: Max Stainkamph

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud visited the region on Wednesday to launch the coalition’s agriculture policy ahead of the May 21 election.

The Nationals deputy leader was in Ardmona for the launch, but just $1.75 million of the $1.75 billion Mr Littleproud spruiked was new funding, with the rest announced in the federal budget last month.

Mr Littleproud defended relaunching budget funding measures as his government being transparent, and said Labor hadn’t submitted a policy to the parliamentary budget office.

No policies specific to the Goulburn Valley were announced during the visit.

That $1.75 million was to improve horticulture market transparency and bargaining power for growers.

The money will provided as funding to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, which would spend more than $1 million to produce a study into the production costs of apples and pears, as well as production margins and industry profitability.

Mr Littleproud said the study would allow independent growers to be on an equal footing with supermarket growers.

More than $600,000 would be put into creating an industry consortium led by Fresh Markets Australia to create a website that compares price and volume data for fresh fruit and vegetables.

“Australian horticulture produces some of the finest produce in the world, and it’s essential that our growers get a fair price in the marketplace,” Mr Littleproud said.

ABARES will conduct a representative survey of apple and pear growers to gain a detailed picture of farm performance, with results from the survey to be published on its website.

The study will be undertaken using $1 million from existing funding from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.