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Grower collective proposed
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Winegrape growers in the Murray Valley NSW/VIC (Murray-Darling and Swan Hill wine regions) will be asked to consider joining a collective to help sell grapes that aren’t under contract.
Murray Valley Winegrowers’ (MVW) will be writing to all 1300 growers seeking expressions of interest in the concept ahead of meeting the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
MVW chief executive Mike Stone said an application to the ACCC for authorisation to collectively bargain on behalf of growers may be necessary.
“Before devoting significant resources and time to formalising an application, we need to know how many growers are interested.
“Membership of a collective would be contingent on growers agreeing to a number of conditions. For example, for the scheme to have any chance of success growers would have to agree not to bypass the collective in selling their fruit. They would have to agree to a fee to cover administration costs and to abide by the rules of a management committee.
“This is an initiative to help non-contracted growers sell their fruit under reasonable terms and conditions,” said Stone.
“For the scheme to work effectively it would need to attract the vast majority of growers who are not under contract. Wineries wishing to buy fruit, apart from that already subject to formal agreement, would deal with the collective to source fruit that met the requirements of the buyer and seller.”
Stone stressed that growers shouldn’t view the collective as a means of ending over supply and price problems. However, it was an opportunity for growers themselves to take more responsibility for selling their fruit under negotiated terms and conditions.
Depending on response to the call for expressions of interest, MVW would host a meeting of interested growers to appoint a management committee and develop the detail necessary to either apply to the ACCC for authorisation or to establish a selling agency.