Time ripe for local frozen berries as Victorian farmers eye Australian first

Growing need: Matt and Ruth Gullace at their Mornington Peninsula berry farm. Photo: Penny StephensAfter an outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen berries from China, Australians may soon be able to buy local berries. But they will have to pay a premium.

With 27 cases of hepatitis A linked to a recent consumer recall of Nanna’s and Creative Gourmet frozen berries, Mornington Peninsula berry farmers Matt and Ruth Gullace have launched a local product under a new brand, Matilda’s.

The Victorian Farmers Federation says the Victorian farmers would be the first to put wholly Australian-grown berries onto consumer shelves.

While the Gallaces’ Sunny Ridge frozen strawberries are currently available only at their farm gate shop at Main Ridge, they are negotiating with Coles and Woolworths to have their products on supermarket shelves by June.

Mr Gallace said after the hepatitis health scare, the company believes the Australian market is ready for locally grown and packed products.

He said consumers could pay $2 to to $2.50 more per 500g bag than for overseas berries, making the product about $7 per pack.

“It is still early days but we have done our market research and most people are willing to pay that small premium to get that quality,” Mr Gallace said.

He said Patties Foods, the company that distributed the suspect frozen berries, had about 40 per cent of the frozen berry market before the health outbreak and it had left a vacuum in the market.

“There is certainly scope there and there always has to be choice,” Mr Gallace said.

“We have spoken to [Coles and Woolworths] before but now they actually return our phone calls … They are talking about volume expectations, so we are pretty confident,” he said.

Mr Gallace said the company had made a small investment in equipment to freeze its berries but that most of the work was labor intensive, involving hand-hulling and sorting.

He said if the market continued for locally grown frozen berries, an investment of about $2 million would be needed for an automated system.

Mr Gallace said he expected to sell about 800 tonnes of frozen berries a year, about 20 per cent of Sunny Ridge’s yield from its four farms – three in Victoria and one in Queensland. He said they would look to other growers if demand exceeded supply.

Victorian Farmers Federation president Peter Tuohey said the hepatitis health scare plus a drop in the Australian dollar made the time right for Australian competition in the market.

He said Australian-grown produce was safe because of its quality assurance standards, its high-quality water for irrigation and cleaning, and because of the health standards of its workers.

“People still buy on price,” Mr Tuohey said. “Australian food is at a premium to imported product, but shoppers generally – quite often – buy on price, but they need to buy on quality and safety more than on price. That has been the main hurdle,” he said.

“[Food producers] here have to do everything right all along the supply chain. I’m sure they are trying to do that in China but there are some gaps there,” he said.

He said supermarkets tested about 5 per cent of the imported frozen product that they sold, but this did not pick up every problem.

There are 12 hepatitis A cases in Queensland linked to the recalled frozen berries, three in Victoria, eight in NSW, two in Western Australia, and one in South Australia and the ACT.

A federal Health Department spokeswoman said only the Nanna’s Mixed Berries product has been epidemiologically linked with the outbreak. The other products have been recalled as a precaution.

Anyone who has eaten the recalled frozen berries and feels unwell should consult their GP.

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Tennis round up

BACKHAND: Brayden Hondow.

Division One

Xavier Saints 9-9-76 def Lyndoch 7-7-79.

McGee, Damian, Jefferys, Adam (XS) 1 v Liebelt, Edward, Carmody, Alan (L) 9; Polito, Robert, Buckby, Roger (XS) 4 v Earl, Logan, Wandersitz, Simon (L) 9; Leeflang, Melanie, Polito, Jayne (XS) 9 v Koch, Emily, Douglas, Laura x (L) 1; Fisher, Karen, Thorne, Carolyn (XS) 9 v Jenner, Sharon, Chinner, Carlene (L) 6.

McGee, Damian (LS) 6 v Liebelt, Edward (L) 4; Buckby, Roger (XS) 6 v Jenner, Brett (L) 4; Roe, Daniel (XS) 2 v Earl, Logan (L) 6; Jefferys, Adam (XS) 1 v Wandersitz, Simon (L) 6; Leeflang, Melanie (XS) 6 v Koch, Emily (L) 2; Polito, Jayne (XS) 6 v Douglas, Laura x (L) 0; Fisher, Karen (XS) 1 v Jenner, Sharon (L) 6; Thorne, Carolyn (XS) 7 v Chinner, Carlene (L) 6.

McGee, Damian, Roe, Daniel (XS) 6 v Liebelt, Edward,Jenner, Brett (L) 7; Polito, Robert, Jefferys, Adam (XS) 0 v Carmody, Alan, Wandersitz, Simon (L) 6; Leeflang, Melanie, Fisher, Karen (XS) 6 v Koch, Emily, Jenner, Sharon (L) 3; Polito, Jayne, Thorne, Carolyn (XS) 6 v Douglas, Laura x, Chinner, Carlene (L) 4.

STRETCH: Nuriootpa’s Grant Daniel returns during a doubles game against Kapunda at Lyndoch. Nuriootpa won the semi-final.

Nuriootpa 9-9-78 def Kapunda 7-7-74.

Sharman, Dylan, Daniel, Grant (N) 9 v Matters, Michael,Matters, David (K) 3; Pope, Nathan, Grace, Tim (N) 9 v Karvouniaris, Yanni, Bishop, Matt K (K) 4; Seelander, Kimberley, Keys, Emma (N) 3 v Gerhardy, Mandy, Daniel, Karen (K) 9; Karvouniaris, Paula, Evans, Robyn (N) 1 v Crowhurst, Annie, Mickan, Helen (K) 9.

Sharman, Dylan (N) 6 v Matters, Michael (K) 4; Pope, Nathan (N) 6 v Matters, David (K) 4; Grace, Tim (N) 6 v Prior, Grant (K) 1; Daniel, Grant (N) 6 v Karvouniaris, Yanni (K) 0; Seelander, Kimberley (N) 5 v Daniel, Karen (K) 7; Keys, Emma (N) 6 v Gerhardy, Mandy (K) 3; Karvouniaris, Paula (N) 0 v Mickan, Helen (K) 6; Evans, Robyn (N) 3 v Johnson, Sarah (K) 6.

Sharman, Dylan, Grace, Tim (N) 4 v Matters, Michael, Prior, Grant (K) 6; Pope, Nathan, Daniel, Grant (N) 6 v Matters, David, Bishop, Matt K (K) 2; Seelander, Kimberley, Evans, Robyn (N) 6 v Crowhurst, Annie, Gerhardy, Mandy (K) 4; Keys, Emma, Karvouniaris, Paula (N) 2 v Johnson, Sarah, Mickan, Helen (K) 6.

Division Two

Nuriootpa 4-4-62 def by Lyndoch 12-12-102.

Edwards, Glenn, Noack, Simon (N) 1 v Powell, Sam, Lane, Andrew (L) 9; Schiller, Travis, Discombe, Michael (N) 5 v Pretlove, Zak, Magarey, Angus (L) 9; Fay, Breanna, Beckmann, Madelene (N) 4 v Plowman, Lil, Hinderwell, Vicki (L) 9; Discombe, Jayne, White, Amanda A (N) 5 v Carmody, Julie, Lane, Diana (L) 9.

Edwards, Glenn (N) 1 v Powell, Sam (L) 6; Noack, Simon (N) 0 v Lane, Andrew (L) 6; Schiller, Travis (N) 3 v Pretlove, Zak (L) 6; Discombe, Michael (N) 6 v Dyer, Michael (L) 3; Fay, Breanna (N) 3 v Plowman, Lil (L) 6; Beckmann, Madelene (N) 6 v Hinderwell, Vicki (L) 4; Discombe, Jayne (N) 7 v Carmody, Julie (L) 6; White, Amanda A (N) 2 v Lane, Diana (L) 6.

Edwards, Glenn, Fay, Breanna (N) 6 v Powell, Sam, Plowman, Lil (L) 4; Noack, Simon, Beckmann, Madelene (N) 3 v Lane, Andrew, Hinderwell, Vicki (L) 6; Williams, Matthew, Discombe, Jayne (N) 6 v Carmody, Julie, Magarey, Angus (L) 7; Discombe, Michael, White, Amanda A (N) 4 v Dyer, Michael, Lane, Diana (L) 6.

Willaston 11-11-94 def Kapunda 5-5-73.

Manie, Robert, Wurst, Kyle (W) 4 v Wuttke, Nick, Karvouniaris, Jamie (K) 9; Nys, Carl, Pettrey, Darren (W) 9 v Higgins, Fraser, Laubsch, Steven (K) 5; Edwards, Angela, Pettrey, Tanya (W) 9 v Wall, Tracy, Cobbledick, Marg (K) 1; Chester, Jodie, Stojko, Nicole (W) 9 v Cobbledick, Ellen, Daniel, Lisa (K) 2.

Manie, Robert (W) 3 v Wuttke, Nick (K) 6; Wurst, Kyle (W) 7 v Karvouniaris, Jamie (K) 6; Nys, Carl (W) 4 v Higgins, Fraser (K) 6; Pettrey, Darren (W) 6 v Laubsch, Steven (K) 4; Edwards, Angela (W) 6 v Wall, Tracy (K) 4; Pettrey, Tanya (W) 5 v Cobbledick, Marg (K) 7; Chester, Jodie (W) 6 v Cobbledick, Ellen (K) 0; Stojko, Nicole (W) 7 v Daniel, Lisa (K) 5.

Manie, Robert, Nys, Carl (W) 6 v Wuttke, Nick, Wall, Tracy (K) 3; Wurst, Kyle, Pettrey, Darren (W) 0 v Karvouniaris, Jamie, Cobbledick, Marg (K) 6; Edwards, Angela, Chester, Jodie (W) 6 v Higgins, Fraser,

Cobbledick, Ellen (K) 4; Pettrey, Tanya, Stojko, Nicole (W) 7 v Laubsch, Steven, Daniel, Lisa (W) 5.

Division Three

Willaston 5-57 def by 11-84 Vine Vale; Willaston United 9-72 def 7-64 Lyndoch.

Division One Boys

Xavier Saints Black 4-4-40 def 2-2-36 Tanunda White; Tanunda Black 2-2-29 def by 4-4-35 Lyndoch.

Division Two Boys

Kapunda 2-2-31 def by 4-4-38 Willaston; Trinity College 3-3-29 def 3-3-29 Freeling.

Junior Pennant Girls

Angaston 4-4-37 def 2-2-25 Riverton; Tanunda 4-4-41 def 2-2-25 Xavier Saints.

Division Three

Tanunda White 2-2-28 def by 4-4-30 Nuriootpa; Angaston 2-2-25 def by 4-4-33 Tanunda Black.

Division Four

Freeling 3-3-28 def by 3-3-30 Kapunda Black; Nuriootpa 4-4-30 def 2-2-20 Tanunda.

Division Five

Freeling 4-4-31 def 2-2-22 Tanunda White; Kapunda 4-4-25 def 2-2-25 Nuriootpa.

Division Six

Kapunda 3-3-22 def 3-3-21 Angaston Blue; Freeling 3-3-28 def 3-3-26 Vine Vale Green.

Division Seven (green ball)

Tanunda 2-2-21 def by 4-4-31 Lyndoch Gold; Lyndoch Blue 4-4-29 def 2-2-26 Nuriootpa.

Night tennis

Monday White/Blue

Can’a’balls6-6-52 def by 6-6-62 Lyndoch; Via Allendale 3-3-50 def by 9-9-69 Maranock; Havn’a’ball 5-5-49 def by 7-7-60 Gully Cannons; Deuce Again 6-6-50 def 6-6-48 Angaston Blue.

Wednesday White/Blue

Hermansberg 4-4-48 def by 8-8-57 The Schnauzes; VVTC Clinkers 3-3-33 def by 9-9-66 The Whackits; Nuri Mixers 6-6-47 def by 6-6-56 Manooknas; Freeling Rebels 7-7-62 def 5-5-42 Freeling Young Ones.

Wednesday Red

Tanunda Downunder 9-9-64 def 3-3-48 Lyndoch Leftovers; Rosie’s Rebels 9-9-62 def 3-3-46 The BYE.

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Rate hike

Local pensioners will be subject to a 16.6 per cent increase on Council rates from July 1 this year due to Federal Government’s decision made in 2014 to cut funding for pensioner concessions.

The specific cost on each pensioner concession entitlement will vary across Council regions however this 16.6 per cent will be the average increase in the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council for pensioner ratepayers.

The State Government indicated this decision was made based on the Federal Government decision in 2014 to cut funding to State Government under the National Partnership Agreement on Certain Concession Card and Senior Card Holders.

The Local Government Association is working closely with Councils throughout South Australia seeking support towards their campaign to lobby for the reinstatement of the concessions.

Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council CEO, Mr Roy Blight said if the pension concessions weren’t available it would have a significant impact on ratepayers who have received the concession previously.

“Council is keen for Federal and State Governments to resolve their differences over this issue and have the pensioner concession reinstated for the 2015/16 budget,” Mr Blight said.

“If it is to cease from July 1, 2015 it will have an immediate and direct impact on rate payers who have received the pensioner concession.”

Mr Blight said the Local Government Association had been active to have this change overturned and Council have been working closely with them and their campaign.

Within South Australia, the State Government has provided pensioners with a concession of $190 ($100 for self-funded retirees) on Council general rates.

This funding enabled concessions to be paid to pension concession holders for utilities, water and Council rates.

A nationwide cut of $27.7 million saw the State Government fill the funding gap for the 2014/15 financial year, however in the 2015/16 budget, State Government announced concessions on Council rates would cease as of June, 2015.

For the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council, funding for pensioner concessions on general rates received from the State Government was $170,130 for 957 ratepayer assessments.

At the ordinary meeting of Council held at the Mintaro Institute on Monday night Council moved a recommendation that Council determine to:

1. Not replace the withdrawn Federal and State Government funding for the pensioner concessions.

2. Inform all ratepayers of the cessation of pensioner concession funding from 1 July, 2015 and the impact on eligible pensioners.

3. Seek feedback from ratepayers about options that the Council could consider in responding to the State Government’s decision to abolish the pensioner concession rebate on Council rates.

4. Write to local State and Federal Members of Parliament seeking support for the reinstatement of funding for the pensioner concession rebate on Council.

Council also added a recommendation to the motion that:

5. That Council write to Premier Jay Weatherill and Member for Frome Geoff Brock expressing Councils strong disapproval on the spending of $1.1m of taxpayer funds on a politically motivated advertising campaign on pensioner concessions cuts.

The addition of the fifth recommendation was moved by Councillor Kells and seconded by Councillor Burfitt.

Councillor Calvert and Councillor Schwarz were against the addition of the fifth recommendation with Councillor Schwarz stating it could impact on the relationship between Council, State and Federal Government and make it difficult in the future to source grants.

Councillor Golding spoke in favour of the fifth recommendation stating that the Premier made this a Political issue, not the Council.

Council will now write to Premier Jay Weatherill and Minister for Regional Development, Geoff Brock sharing their strong disapproval regarding the funding cuts to pensioner concessions and work closely with the LGA’s campaign to lobby for its reinstatement.

See next week’s Northern Argus for comments from Senator Sean Edwards and Minister for Regional Development, Geoff Brock on this issue; as well as the response from pensioner ratepayers in the region.

More information on this issue can be found in the Council Agenda and Minutes of the ordinary meeting of Council held on Monday, March 16, 2015.

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Frank Yamma plays music from the country’s heart

Frank Yamma will perform at the Candelo Village Festival. HOW does the critically-acclaimed musician Frank Yamma describe his sound?

“Desert sound mate, it’s a desert sound,” he said.

“A lot of bands coming from where I come from now, and they make desert sound.

“You go to the Top End, everybody playing there they call it saltwater bands.”

The Pitjantjatjara man sings in his Indigenous language as well as English, and while himself the son of a renowned musician he has had a turbulent life, spending time in prison as well as being homeless.

Now, with the acclaimed albums Uncle and Countryman under his belt, Yamma has spent the past few years travelling and playing music around Australia and the world.

His schedule means he is a busy man these days, so speaking while on the road Yamma said he had just coming in from New Zealand and was on route to Port Fairy, before going to places such as Blue Mountains.

“Then I’ll have a rest, then out again,” he said.

He was looking forward to his upcoming show headlining the Candelo Village Festival on March 28, never having done a gig in the area before.

Growing up outside of Alice Springs, Yamma travelled around a bit but was surrounded by family and music in his youth.

“I didn’t really have a home because going around everywhere I had uncles and aunties,” he said.

“Everybody was looking after me, but that’s what family is for.

“Every place I go, the family are musicians so get the band equipment out and play together.

“My brothers were musos so all grew up together playing music, you know.”

These days his brothers are a bit older, and “not as into making noise anymore”.

Yamma’s father Isaac, who passed away in 1990, was a country-singer who founded Australia’s first national Indigenous radio network.

He had his own recording studio which nowadays many Indigenous artists play in, and he and Yamma enjoyed a good relationship.

“I liked listening to him singing, and I’d be playing along on guitar,” Yamma said.

“Really good fun.”

Yamma’s mother passed away when he was quite young, and when he got to his teens he and his brothers went to do work such as stock hands and in stations.

In his younger days he spent time in prison, when he was “young and silly”.

“Teasing coppers and all that,” he said.

“Ended up in jail for one year.”

This time was spent writing songs and jamming on the prison guitar.

Frank Yamma – Everybody’s Talking“When I started getting older, I done silly stuff again,” he said.

“You know, driving around drunk and stealing because I was really, really silly.

“I got locked up again, this time for three-and-a-half years.

“It give me a lesson alright.”

He was able to study inside prison, and spent his time learning “as much as possible”.

“Once I done my time I got out, and thought ‘I gotta do something, I gotta get an opportunity to make noise,” Yamma said.

There is a strong connection between his music and the land.

“I sing about land, trees, animals, people, you know,” Yamma said.

“It’s story telling.”

The Candelo Village Festival will be on March 28.

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Rural leader steps down

AGRICULTURAL ADVOCATE: Dierdre Lemerle is retiring from her roles at CSU and the Graham Centre after a long history.

A CAREER focussed on delivering research directly to the ruralsector is what defined Graham Centre director Professor Dierdre Lemerle.

Professor Lemerleis retiring from the top job where she was integral in overseeing the research undertaken by the Graham Centre.

The centre based in Wagga is a collaboration between NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Charles Sturt University (CSU).

ProfessorLemerlewasdirector of the centresince its inception 10years ago.

Before that she spent 25 years with theNSWDepartment of Primary Industries in Wagga.

Professor Lemerlesays it is an exciting time for agricultural research and emphasised the importance of communication throughout the entire chain.

“There’s a great team of scientists at the Graham Centre and we have developed partnerships with farming systems groups to ensure that our research is needs driven,” she said.

ProfessorLemerle’sresearch has included non-chemical weed management and increasing crop competitiveness with weeds.

She was awarded the Council of Australian Weed Science Societies Medal for Excellence in Weed Science in 1998, and the CSU Vice-Chancellors Award for Research Excellence toAllelopathyResearch Group 2000.

Professor Lemerle said the clean and green reputation of produce grown in the Murray-Darling Basin cannot be understated.

“We are at a huge advantage here just because of our regional location,” she said.

“The bottom half of the Murray-Darling Basin produces 40 per cent of the food in Australia.”

To be at the forefront of research she said the industry needed to collaborate and deliver results directly to the sector.

“The bucket of money (for research) is always shrinking but there are still new opportunities,” she said.

“Our farmers are producing food and fibre sustainably and we need to communicate that message to the consumers.”

Meanwhile, she stressed the abundance of opportunities for people who were interested in agriculture as a career.

“There is a whole range of career paths available now that weren’t there 10 years ago,” she said.

Professor Lemerle said she was keen to maintain an involvement in the rural research sector despite the fact she was retiring from the role of director.

“I am keen to support the ongoing work at the Graham Centre and I believe now is an exciting time to be at the forefront of agricultural research,” she said.

Professor Lemerle said a new director at the Graham Centre would bring a wealth of ideas to lead the identity into the future to help farmers become more efficient at producing food and fibre.

“We will see more of the extension people working closely together and it is critically important that we continually focus on needs-driven research,” she said.

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