On Friday, April 27 the councillors from all regions representing the Wine Grape Council of South Australia (WGCSA) are bringing their roadshow to Loxton.
In recent years the State Council has convened a summit at Adelaide Oval and last year it was held in the Barossa Valley. This year the councillors are coming to the Riverland to meet and greet Riverland growers. This is an opportunity to learn about the State Council, its policies, strategies and activities. The complete agenda has not yet been finalised but there will be presentations from Vinehealth Australia, the AWRI, Australian Vignerons, the South Australian Wine Industry Association and of course the State Council. The free event will be convened in the new Loxton Research Centre building from 1 to 5pm with cocktail food and refreshments at the conclusion.
Councillors from across the regions will take the opportunity to listen to the views of Riverland growers on any matters of concern or interest.
Perhaps the most important matter to be discussed on the day will be rates of contribution to the State fund. Riverland representatives have requested the council give consideration to amending the Regulations to move from the old original rate of $1/tonne to a much fairer (ad valorem) rate expressed as a percentage of farmgate income. The current rate ($1/tonne) has imposed a disproportionate financial burden on Riverland growers. Perhaps, more importantly the rate which has not been adjusted since 2007 is not generating sufficient income to enable the State Council or the Federal body, Australian Vignerons to be adequately resourced.
When the State Council was first established the intention was to set up a funding mechanism to enable all South Australian winegrowers to be represented in State and Federal forums. If the State Council and the Federal body are not well funded the views and opinions of growers on wide-ranging policies including water, energy, industrial relations and of course taxation, will not be heard.
Recent experience reveals that spraydrift continues to be a troublesome topic. It will be interesting to learn how other regions are being affected and how they are dealing with the challenge. Riverland Wine (RW) recently wrote to Minister Bignell asking that the State Government intercede on behalf of all responsible farmers, growers and regional communities to put a stop to the reckless behaviour of some who use these dangerous chemicals without due care. RW suggested to the Minister that consideration might be given to restricting the use of 2,4-D products each year between September and March or even withdrawn from sale altogether.
The councillors will be presenting the roadshow across all regions. RWGA chair Sheridan Alm will represent our region. At the conclusion of the roadshows a decision will be made as to whether or not contribution rates will be adjusted. Please put this date in your diary and be sure to come and meet the councillors from the other regions and represent your point of view.