MELON growers have voted in favour of proposals to establish grower levies for biosecurity, and research and development.
The results of the ballot, released today by the Australian Melon Association (AMA), show 70 per cent in favour of biosecurity levies and 68pc in favour of an R&D levy.
This will allow a business case to go forward to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources for approval.
It is anticipated the levy will commence in July 2016.
AMA chairman, Mark Daunt said was a positive step for growers and the future of the melon industry.
“The Association is very pleased that our growers have decided to set up levies that will provide funds for the future and ensure that the melon industry is covered under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed if another exotic incursion should occur," Mr Daunt said.
“The recent incursion of cucumber green mottled mosaic virus provided a sharp reminder of the vulnerability of our industry, which, like all plant industries, has to guard against plant pests, both endemic and exotic.”
In 2005, growers voted down a proposed marketing and research levy, while a watermelon levy also failed to gain support in 2011.
According to Plant Health Australia (PHA) CEO and executive director Greg Fraser, having funds for biosecurity will ensure that growers can continue producing competitively in Australia.
“The Plant Health Australia Levy and the Emergency Plant Pest Response Levy are important because they facilitate AMA’s membership of Plant Health Australia and the signing of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed – Australia’s agreement between governments and industry that sets out how exotic plant pest incursions are dealt with and how they’re cost-shared,” Mr Fraser said.
“Without this, the industry has no seat at the table when decisions are being made about any future exotic plant pest responses."
Industry development manager Dianne Fullelove research and development is key for supporting the needs of growers to improve the viability and profitability of the melon industry.
The AMA said it intends to visit growing areas in the next few months to discuss grower expectations for the levy and to present the draft Industry Strategic Plan.
The Strategic Plan will be the document that informs how the levy is spent in conjunction with Grower Advisory Panels.