Govt funding for Qld strawberry industry

By admin • 成都桑拿 • 17 Dec 2018

Photo: AAP Image/Queensland Police

The Queensland government has thrown its financial support behind the state’s crisis-hit strawberry farmers as they dump truckloads of fruit in the wake of a needle contamination scare.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a $1 million fund to help farmers bounce back and restore consumer confidence in fruit stocks.

“The sabotage of our strawberry industry is not just an attack on hard-working growers and workers, but it reaches into almost every home and school lunch box,” she told parliament on Tuesday.

“The community needs to come together and help police catch those responsible and restore our industry to the place of pride it deserves.”

Queensland’s 150 strawberry farmers produce 60 million punnets of the fruit a year worth $160 million.

At least one grower will install metal detectors to check his produce as the industry deals with the fallout from the discovery of sewing needles hidden in punnets of the fruit.

Glass House Mountains farmer Leonard Smith said the safety measure would cost him about $30,000, but would hopefully get the rest of this season’s fruit back on supermarket shelves.

However, he said the detectors wouldn’t work if the contamination was occurring offsite.

Mr Smith’s farm was forced to burn off 500,000 unsellable plants on the weekend as it was cheaper to destroy them than pick them.

He is not alone.

South n producers are sourcing x-ray machines to check fruit there, while other growers have had to cut back on staff while the impact of the nationwide contamination deepens.

Farmers have posted footage online showing their produce being dumped in truckloads and a Gold Coast woman has told of her dog becoming sick after trying to eat a strawberry packed with razor blades.

Needles have been found in strawberries in all six states, with New Zealand announcing this week it would also pull the n-grown fruit from its supermarket shelves.

A health warning to throw out or cut up strawberries remains in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South .

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice president Adrian Schultz said “commercial terrorism” was bringing an industry to its knees.

Queensland Police’s investigation into the contamination was further complicated when a 62-year-old woman was caught sticking a needle into a banana in a shop in Mackay, in an apparent copycat act.

The woman, who is understood to have mental health issues, was given a warning and referred to appropriate support services.

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