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20/04/2010

Murray Valley Winegrowers CEO resigns

Mike Stone has resigned as chief executive officer of the Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW). He has been in the position for nine years and will remain so until a replacement CEO has been found. Stone has been at the helm of MVW during a period of fluctuating fortunes for the Australian wine industry. He joined in July 2001 when the industry was buoyant and growers were receiving good prices for most varieties with no water restrictions in sight. But the drop in prices started in 2002 and gradually worsened, prompting warnings from MVW four years ago that many growers would be forced out of the industry. Stone says highlights of his tenure include supporting initiatives of commercial arrangements between growers and wineries, including the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct that grew from work started by MVW in the Murray-Darling and Swan Hill regions, and the endorsement by national industry bodies of dispute resolution provisions. Other achievements include establishing the region’s first Wine Grapes for Sale Index and the subsequent development of Vintage Traders Australia to act as an agent in the selling of fruit, improving grower communications, and spearheading reform of the national growers’ body in association with colleagues in the Riverina and Riverland. “Seemingly never-ending major issues have been managed over the past nine years," he said. "This includes legal processes when grower contracts were broken and/or wineries liquidated, lodging complaints with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleging breaches of the Trade Practices Act, coordinating price dispute hearings and presentation of evidence, and gathering and presenting evidence and submissions for government enquiries,” he said. “It’s time now to move on and for someone else to do their best to represent growers’ interests in the Murray Darling and Swan Hill regions.” Mike thanked the board and staff of MVW for their support and assistance over the past nine years, particularly chairman Michael De Palma, office manager Helen Hynes and Industry Development officer Liz Singh.

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