2019 has been an exciting year of change and growth for Growcom.

We’re incredibly proud to welcome new faces to the team who have helped deliver much-needed services to Australia’s fruit, vegetable and nut growers across the country.

Joining us as Fair Farms Program Manager, Thomas Hertel has successfully led roll-out of the industry-led workplace training and certification program.

Fair Farms tackles worker exploitation head on by rewarding complaint growers and using market forces to drive out unethical and unlawful employment practices.

Since its formal launch at the 2019 Hort Connections conference in June, over 100 horticulture businesses have joined Fair Farms which continues to be widely applauded by both growers and the broader supply chain.

This year we also welcomed Richard Shannon in the role of Manager, Policy & Advocacy.

Richard has been instrumental in developing our strategic plan for the next three years. He’s also established a new Water Reference Group, driven by the interests of our members, convening around significant water issues. This group has been providing feedback to the Queensland Competition Review of irrigation water pricing on behalf of the horticulture industry.

We’ve also enhanced our workplace relations offering with the appointment of Susie Butterworth to the role of Workplace Relations Advisor. Susie comes to Growcom after a nine year career with the Fair Work Ombudsman where she provided advice and assistance to employers and employees around their rights and entitlements at work.

At a state level, we led the Queensland Horticulture Council at its annual forum bringing together representatives from each of the major horticulture growing regions across Queensland. The Council came away reinvigorated with a range of actions to improve the formulation of government policies and programs to make sure the priorities of our growers are not just heard but met.

In other news, industry continues to measure impacts of changes to the Horticulture Award which came into effect on the 15 April 2019, including ordinary hours of work, night loading and overtime entitlements. Earlier this year, Growcom launched a national survey that will continue over summer to capture changes farmers have made to their employment practices.

We are also working with growers in the Lockyer Valley in their quest for a workable water solution. For those in Reef catchments, we are working with government for the best possible outcome for horticulture following the passing of the Palaszczuk Government’s Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill.

The Queensland Farmers’ Federation has also been a great support and source of expertise on issues relating to water and energy and we will continue to work with them in 2020.

As the year draws to a close we would like to pay special thanks to our growers, for giving us a platform to lay the groundwork for a thriving future for horticulture. Their hard work and resilience are the reason we’re all here.

We wish all Queenslanders a peaceful and prosperous New Year.