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$745,000 Australian Government boost for Victorian agribusiness.



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AFFA03/327WT - 6 November 2003

$745,000 Australian Government boost for Victorian agribusiness

Nine Victorian agribusinesses are among 37 Australia-wide to receive grants and scholarships totalling $2.5 million under the Australian Government's New Industries Development Program (NIDP), Agriculture Minister Warren Truss announced today.

Mr Truss said the NIDP, which is administered by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, is a key element of the Government's Backing Australia's Ability initiative.

"Today's awards are funded under the NIDP's In-Market Experience Scholarship and Pilot Commercialisation Project schemes, and will help build the management skills of some of the leading innovators in Australian agribusiness," Mr Truss said.

"Some of the successful Victorian projects include Warragul-based company HJF (Aust) receiving a $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise a portable plant that re-processes bakery waste into a feed supplement. The Hawthorn-based Australian Alpaca Cooperative will use its $110,000 grant to commercialise a range of alpaca fibre home ware and textile products.

"Maxiflora, based in Monbulk will use its $21,514 In-Market Experience Scholarship to help commercialise anthuriums in Australia's cut flower market, and western Victorian company SMARTimbers Cooperative will use its $31,625 scholarship to develop agreements with plantation growers, as well as promote its certified and sustainable timber products to new, higher-value markets.

"85 pilot commercialisation projects and 41 scholarships have been funded under the expanded NIDP - demonstrating a clear commitment by the Coalition Government to help Australian agribusiness capture new market opportunities."

Mr Truss congratulated all the recipients, saying the wide range of initiatives being funded under the NIDP highlights the increasing diversification and innovation taking place in Australian agribusiness.

The next round of PCP funding closes on 23 January 2004. For further information, including guidelines and application forms, visit www.affa.gov.au/agribiz or call 1300 884 588 (for the cost of the local call).

Details on the nine Victorian agribusinesses receiving scholarships and PCP funding today are attached. For a full list of recipients Australia-wide, or additional information on the NIDP, please call the Program's Manager, Naomi Ashurst on (02) 6272 3785.

Victorian recipients of In-Market Experience Scholarships and PCP grants

In-Market Experience Scholarships (all amounts include GST)

Recipient: SMARTimbers Cooperative. Location: western Victoria. Amount: $31,625. SMARTimbers provides a cooperative marketing service for premium, sustainably?managed farm-grown timber. The flagship resource is a plantation hardwood known as 'sugar gum'. Most of the region's sugar gums were originally planted as windbreaks on private land and used predominantly for low-value uses such as firewood. The scholarship winner, John Reed, will use his award to help develop supply and alliance agreements with local growers, and also promote the Cooperative's certified and sustainable timber products to new, higher value markets, such as furniture makers, architects, craftspeople and veneer manufacturers. Contact: John Reed info@smartimbers.com.au or 1300 360 368.

Recipient: Maxiflora. Location: Monbulk. Amount: $21,514. One of Victoria's premium gerbera growers, Maxiflora, is interested in the possibilities of another flower - anthurium. Maxiflora's Michael Vanderzwet and Judy Rankin will use the company's $21,514 scholarship to help commercialise anthuriums for Australia's cut flower market. Michael will investigate the necessary supply chain relationships - here and overseas - while Judy will boost her skills in e-based commerce and web design. Contact: Michael Vanderzwet michael@maxiflora.com.au or (03) 9756 6492.

Recipient: Ag Concepts Unlimited. Location: Ballarat. Amount: $32,043. Kaine Perry, the Senior Market Analyst for Ag Concepts Unlimited, will use his $32,043 scholarship to boost his skills and establish formal business relationships with processors and lot feeders. Through the use of forward contracts, he hopes to provide the Australian cattle and meat industry with a new way to market their products. Contact: Kaine Perry agconcepts@bigpond.com or (03) 5333 7764.

Pilot Commercialisation Project (PCP) grants (all amounts include GST)

Recipient: HJF (Aust). Location: Warragul. PCP grant: $110,000. HJF (Aust) Pty Ltd will use its $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise a portable pilot plant that re-processes bakery waste into a high-quality feed supplement for rural industries such as dairying. Contact: Tim Stroh t.stroh@wildeconsulting.com.au or 0419 153 592.

Recipient: Saurin Enterprises. Location: Port Melbourne. PCP grant: $110,000. Saurin Enterprises will use its $110,000 PCP grant to help commercialise organic butter production. Saurin's facility will provide organic farmers in Victoria and NSW with a processing plant so they can realise higher value returns for their products. Contact: Rakesh Aggarwal rakesh@saurin.com.au or (03) 9646 6771.

Recipient: Australian Alpaca Cooperative. Location: Hawthorn. PCP grant: $110,000. The Australian Alpaca Cooperative will use its $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise a wide range of alpaca fibre home ware and textile products. The Cooperative also aims to boost consumer recognition of its alpaca brand.

Contact: Michael Talbot alpacacoop@telstra.com or (03) 9821 0000.

Recipient: Australian Garlic Producers. Location: Mildura. PCP grant: $110,000. Australian Garlic Producers will use its $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise the production of fresh green garlic. The project involves pilot trials of a new, fresh garlic variety. The new product will be produced 'out of season' ensuring a year-round supply of Australian-grown garlic. Contact: Nick Diamantopoulos garlic@bigpond.net.au or (03) 9500 1499.

Recipient: Fresh Concepts Corp. Location: Irymple. PCP grant: $110,000. Fresh Concepts will use its $110,000 PCP grant to commercialise its 'fresh and fast' packaged, two-minute asparagus line. The packaging system, developed with supply chain partners Bantec International, can be used in microwaves, extends the shelf life of asparagus and enables shorter asparagus stems to be used. Contact: Robin Minter minterra@hotkey.net.au or (03) 5029 1518.

Recipient: National Cattle Feeders. Location: Balwyn. PCP grant: $110,000. National Cattle Feeders will use its $110,000 PCP grant to establish and commercialise a new commodity finance arrangement initially for Australian Lot Feeders Association members and accredited cattle feedlots. This will allow accredited operators to access competitive financing with the commodities acting as security. The benefit in this is that it allows the clients to use their existing, secured banking facilities for other opportunities. The project's second stage involves adapting the model to other accredited agribusinesses. Contact: Peter Godfrey pgodfrey@bigpond.com or (03) 6334 3773.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office: Tim Langmead - 02 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433