Fruit orchards crushed by free trade - Goulburn Valley

A familiar story: an industry is devastated by cheap imports (dumped at below cost), supermarket price wars, and a high Australian dollar.

Free-trade fundamentalists are giddy with excitement: at last the land can be reallocated to more efficient production. Win, win! What can go wrong?

Reallocated to what, you say? Nobody seems to know. But I guess the Chinese will figure it out after they buy the land from devastated farmers.

Is this turmoil really worth it just to save a dollar on a can of fruit? No, it's not.

The end of a fruit growing era
After two generations growing fruit, cuts to contracts have forced Ray to call it a day.

Invergordon fruit farmer Ray Pool doesn't even try to sugarcoat his situation.

"We're finished as fruit growers. There's no way we can get up out of this situation and return to profitability," he says...

"We haven't done anything detrimentally wrong. The only thing we've done wrong is be fruit growers."
Heartbreak as farmers forced to rip up 60yo fruit trees
One by one, factories are cutting back production or closing down altogether and the collateral damage reverberates through the regional centres that developed around once thriving farming communities...

Fruit grower Peter Hall's father planted the trees on his block at Mooroopna, and they have been reliable income earners for the family business ever since...

Even though they have consistently yielded 60 tonne to the hectare, the trees are redundant.

Mr Hall estimates as many as 750 hectares of pear and peach trees will be pushed over, piled up and burnt in the Goulburn valley over the next few weeks...

The global financial crisis, a high dollar and cheap imports have combined to undermine the profitability of food processing in the Goulburn Valley and other parts of Australia.

Some growers are able to switch production to the fresh fruit and vegetable market, but there is a fear that might lead to an oversupply and create other problems...
File under: specialise, trade, and ... brace for impact.

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