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Marathon meeting achieves agreement

A seven-hour meeting with McGuigan Simeon Wines has resulted in a compromise agreement that could see all contract suspensions lifted.

The meeting at Loxton in the Riverland yesterday involved McGuigan Simeon directors Brian McGuigan and Perry Gunner, grower representatives from the Murray Valley NSW/VIC and Riverland SA and CEOs of Murray Valley Winegrowers’ and Riverland Winegrape Growers’ Association. The meeting was conducted by Produce and Grocery Industry Ombudsman David Holst.

The bulk of the agreement that eventuated late in the afternoon has to be ratified by the Board of McGuigan Simeon Wines and about 170 suspended growers in the Murray Valley and Riverland.

However, taking immediate effect is the lifting of suspensions on contracts for a number of varieties, including Gordo, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Riesling and Pinot Noir.

In addition, but yet to be approved by the McGuigan Simeon Board:

• 60% of the remainder of suspended growers’ contract tonnes would be accepted by the company, with growers agreeing to leave 40% unsold. (Proposed prices will be issued later this week);

• Dispute resolution provisions would be amended to facilitate a new fruit pricing methodology;

• The threat of termination hanging over growers who opposed amendments in the 2005/2006 Grower Manual would be removed.

Subject to the Board of McGuigan Simeon approving these proposals, Murray Valley Winegrowers’ and Riverland Winegrape Growers’ Association would recommend that suspended growers not proceed with pending legal action.

The McGuigan Simeon Board is scheduled to meet next Monday (January 30). A meeting of suspended growers in the Murray Valley is scheduled for the day after to receive a report on the outcome of the Board meeting and other issues.

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