Australian farmers could be prevented from selling blueberries into the mega Chinese market for years, after Agriculture Department officials confirmed the Conservatives had no timeframe for negotiations on an export protocol to begin.
Labor pushed the issue of market access for blueberry farmers into China three months ago.
At that time it was revealed the reason blueberry farmers couldnt sell their fruit to China was because Barnaby Joyce hadnt set up an export protocol.
On Monday, after months of pressure by Labor, Anne Ruston announced Australia and China are transitioning to a new two and two agreement that includes Australian apples and blueberries as future market access priorities.
Labor welcomes this announcement.
However, we remain seriously concerned about the timeframe for when actual export protocol negotiations will begin.
The Conservatives refused to commit to a start date outside of a vague commitment to start once a stone fruit protocol was finalised.
Last night at Senate estimates, the Department of Agriculture confirmed that:
The current active negotiation is on stone fruit and were hopeful that will conclude in the not too distant future, although I dont have a definite timeframe at this stage and then well be able to transition to a new work plan.
Canada, Peru, Chile and Argentina already have access to the Chinese blueberry market which is growing at 20 per cent per annum.
Barnaby Joyce needs to be honest andprovide our blueberry industry with a clear timeframe for when export protocols will actually commence.