Developing strategic alliances with New Zealand vegetable industry – study tour for young growers to USA, October 2006 (VG06017)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
In October 2006, six young Australian vegetable growers joined six counterparts from New Zealand on a professional development tour of USA. The tour included farm and industry-related visits in the Imperial Valley vegetable growing region of California.
The primary objective of the tour was to expose the young growers to issues relevant to the broader vegetable industry including production, marketing, processing, value adding, supply chain and research activity. A secondary objective was for the Young Growers to interact with, share experiences and learn from other young growers in the places visited.
The two-week visit was timed to coincide with the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Conference held in San Diego, California.
The highlight of the tour, funded by voluntary contributions from the young growers and National Vegetable Levy funds, was the series of visits to vegetable farms adjacent to the USA/Mexico border in California’s Imperial Valley (El Centro) and at Yuma, Arizona. Issues discussed included:
- Difficulties in acquiring a reliable supply of day-labour,
- The use, cost, quality and supply of water, and
- Environmental impacts of farming which were becoming a more prominent public issue in mainstream USA and increasingly in Australia.
To ensure the young growers were exposed to all facets of vegetable farming in the region, the itinerary included visits to the University of California Agricultural Experimental Station, the Imperial Valley Irrigation Distribution Headquarters and a huge desalination plant near the Colorado River at Yuma. Social gatherings of young farmers provided the perfect opportunity for the young Australian and New Zealand growers to share experiences, farming practices and common issues such as maximizing use of expensive equipment and pesticide control.
The presentations and extensive trade show at the PMA conference rounded off a highly successful study tour. The interchange between the Australian and New Zealand young vegetable growers added another dimension to two-weeks of immensely beneficial personal and professional development.
The continuation of similar grower tours combining farm visits and attendance at a national or international vegetable industry conference was recommended.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of AUSVEG Ltd and the vegetable industry.
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