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Melon growers look to brighter future

IT can only be onwards and upwards for the melon industry according to Australian Melon Association chairman, Mark Daunt.

With the effects of cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) still lingering over the industry, the future outlook was an ever-present thought at the 2016 Bayer Australian Melon Conference and Field Days in Mildura last week.

There was a palpable sense of positive growth among the growers, marketers and seed company representatives during the field days which attracted nearly 250 people.

Mr Daunt, a Queensland melon grower himself, said there was no denying the industry had endured a rugged time.

“Without a doubt, the last 18 months has been tough going for the melon industry, particularly for the affected growers in the Northern Territory and our one grower in Queensland,” he said.

“But in saying that, I think everyone is now breathing a little bit of a sigh of relief because there have been no further growers found with positive results.

“Those farmers can go back and manage their own farming operations and are available to grow some melons again and manage those areas that were affected with the virus and get themselves back on track.”

Because the Australian Melon Association (AMA) was not a signatory to Plant Health Australia’s Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPR), no representatives were permitted to be part of government discussions during the virus outbreak.

But with the recent positive vote in favour of a research and development levy, including an EPPR levy, growers will now have a seat at the table when it comes to discussions which affect the industry.

AMA industry development manager Dianne Fullelove gave an update on where the levy process is at, saying the deadline for objections to the levy is April 1.

The levy is legislated to commence on July 1, however she said being a federal election year that is more likely to be bumped back to October 1.

The AMA is also working on a strategic plan.

Mr Daunt said there were some valuable lessons learned after CGMMV hit.

“We didn’t have any dress rehearsals prior to this melon outbreak and we’ve had to try and manage it and do the best job we possibly can to be able to deal with the situation,” he said.

He said the Mildura event was a resounding success with plenty of positive feedback from attendees.

Source: http://www.farmweekly.com.au/news/agriculture/horticulture/general-news/melon-growers-look-to-brighter-future/2752015.aspx