Oz Group's Gurmesh Singh, Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud.
Oz Group's Gurmesh Singh, Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud. Trevor Veale

Blueberry exports primed to expand under $50 million fund

COFFS Coast region farmers are set to receive greater access to overseas markets thanks to the Coalition Government's $51.3 million package to grow exports.

Visiting Ozberry today, Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker said the funding would create six new agricultural counsellor positions in key markets including Europe, the UK, Latin America and Asia and extend five others.

"The blueberry industry is thriving in this region, with huge potential to grow even further backed by practical government initiatives that will boost exports and farmgate profits," Mr Hartsuyker said.

"Agricultural counsellors support farmers by building strong relationships with key trading partners and providing vital market intelligence to work through trade barriers to get our hard working farmers top price for their produce.

"A great example is how our counsellors helped obtain access for blueberries to India and we saw the first exports in 2017 opening up new opportunities for the expanding industry.

"The Coalition Government is working towards access for blueberries from the mainland to Japan and has identified access to China as a future priority, which will require the support of our counsellors in China."

Minister Littleproud said the six new agricultural counsellor positions would be strategically placed in markets where we are negotiating or had recently concluded free trade agreements.

"Free trade agreements can reduce tariffs, but we need market access agreements for each specific commodity before our farmers can export their produce there," Minister Littleproud said.

"Agricultural counsellors helped win us new market access to China for nectarines in 2016 and peaches, plums and apricots in 2017. Counsellors also helped get better access for our chickpeas to Iran and Pakistan through improved ways of treating the legumes with fungicide.

"Our counsellor in Beijing called the Chinese Agricultural Minister every day for three weeks to make sure certain Aussie citrus orchards had approved access to China for the upcoming season, which meant these citrus growers had a market for their fruit.

"Last year alone Australia exported over 4,200 tonnes of fresh berries worth $41 million, including 356 tonnes of blueberries worth $8.5 million to markets including Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand, most of which were grown in Coffs Harbour.

"We want to get the best results we can out of these trade deals for our farmers. The TPP-11 alone includes markets worth $13.8 trillion and we are in a great position to capitalise on it."

The Budget continues measures which give farmers a fair go and build drought resilience which include doubling farm management deposits to $800,000, 100 per cent write offs on water storage and fences and write offs over three years for fodder storage.

Farmers and small businesses will continue to have access to the $20,000 instant asset write-offs for a further 12 months to enable them to replace or upgrade things like the old work ute.


Fast facts

  • In the agriculture portfolio since 1 January 2016, the government claims to  have had 72 key market access gains or restorations, along with 63 key market access improvements or actions to maintain market access.


  • Australia exports more fresh berries than it imports.


  • Australia exported 4,244 tonnes of fresh berries worth $41 million for the year ending June 2017.


  • 356 tonnes of blueberries were exported in the year ending June 2017 to the value of $8.5 million.


  • The funding will also extend five agricultural counsellor positions in Vietnam, Malaysia, the Middle East, China and Thailand