A poll of orange, grapefruit and mandarin producers to determine the future of the Murray Valley Citrus Board will be held on 8 June 2012.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said Victorian and New South Wales citrus producers would be given a vote to decide whether the Murray Valley Citrus Board should continue providing services to the industry into the future.
“The Murray Valley Citrus Board provides research and development, commercialisation, market development and pest management services for the citrus industry,” Mr Walsh said.
“Under Victorian legislation growers must vote on the continuation of the Citrus Board every four years, along with its authorisation to collect a levy from growers and deliver services.
“The Coalition Governments of Victoria and New South Wales have listened to local citrus producers and have determined that it will be growers who decide the board’s future.”
The Victorian Electoral Commission will conduct the poll by postal ballot and will mail ballot papers to all eligible citrus producers to arrive from Monday 28 May. The poll will close on Friday 8 June 2012.
Mr Walsh said growers would have the opportunity to vote on whether to extend the life of the Murray Valley Citrus Board, and in doing so endorse a levy of $5.50 per tonne of citrus fruit for the first year.
“Citrus producers with at least 150 fruit-bearing trees grown within the Murray Valley area will be eligible to vote in the poll,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh said the proposed new board would cover a smaller production area than the existing board did, with the government accepting requests from Barham-Murrabit growers to be excluded from the Murray Valley Citrus Board and levy.
“If successful in the poll, the reconstituted Murray Valley Citrus Board would cover producers in the Mildura and Swan Hill municipalities, plus in New South Wales the Balranald andWentworth shires and part of Wakool shire lying west of the Moulamein to Swan Hill Road,” Mr Walsh said.
Mr Walsh encouraged all citrus growers to have their say in the poll.