Imports a threat to Aussie growers

PINEAPPLE growers say the Federal Government's proposal to import de-crowned pineapples from Malaysia could force many Australian producers out of business.

The industry has faced other challenges in recent decades and growers have progressively jumped ship, with many uncultivated former pineapple properties evident in the Mary Valley.

In the Gympie Region, Goomboorian's Sandowne is the last major pineapple farm still in operation. Owners, the Buchanan family, declined to comment on the import issue yesterday, saying it was too political.

But a spokesman for them, and for all Queensland growers, Chris Fullerton of the Glasshouse Mountains said while many pineapple farms had disappeared, most of those had been involved in the processed fruit industry.

Mr Fullerton said the processed fruit industry was still a significant one in Queensland, but it was the "fresh fruit" sector that had been thriving and growing at the rate of 10% a year.

Throwing overseas' competition and a serious disease threat into the mix was not helpful or necessary, he said.

Biosecurity Australia has issued advice that de-crowned fruit be allowed into Australia subject to being fumigated with methyl bromide to kill exotic pests that could carry disease, like the destructive fruit collapse.

Methyl bromide is banned in Australia.

Mr Fullerton, and Stephen Scurr from Pinata Pineapples, agreed there was no need to import potentially-dangerous fruit.

"There's no need to import any fruit and veg from any other country into Australia," Mr Scurr said.

"There's more than enough pineapple grown in Australia to support Australians' consumption. We are struggling to sell pineapple all year at a competitive price."

Mr Fullerton said importing fruit with a chemical on it that was not allowed to be used in Australia was not the best for Australian consumers. And, he said, fruit collapse threatened not only the Australian pineapple industry, but corn, maize and plant nurseries as well.

"We liken it to the foot and mouth disease of the livestock industry," he said.

Pineapple growers have until December 19 to make their submission opposing the imports.

"We believe we have got some great science to back our argument up," Mr Fullerton said.

"If the decision (on whether or not to import the Malaysian pineapples) is made purely on science we feel we have got an extremely strong case. There is absolutely no reason to allow imports into this country."

Gympie Times

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