© 2021 Greek Community Tribune All Rights Reserved

Riverland wine grape growers are "going broke"

March 2024 Tractors, harvesters and trucks have lined the streets of Renmark as growers in Australia's largest wine grape growing region protest for greater sustainability in their industry. Hundreds of farmers and wine grape growers drove through the South Australian Riverland town in trucks, tractors and harvesters at the beginning of February, before blocking both lanes of traffic in front of a hotel. The region, about 200 kilometres north east of Adelaide, is home to more than 900 growers that contribute about $400 million to the national economy. The tractor convoy was led by 25-year-old Sava Giahgias, who said he wanted to raise awareness about the unsustainability of an industry where farmers were paid below the cost of production for their grapes. "If the industry collapses, the Riverland will collapse," he said. The third-generation grower said despite the temporary disruption to traffic, people had been largely supportive. "A couple of guys stopped me and said, 'Good. Keep doing it'," Mr Giahgias said. "The Riverland is going to collapse if we don't do something about it. Us farmers are the Riverland. We are the food bowl." 'People are going broke' The protest followed a heated meeting at a property in Loveday on Tuesday, where more than 100 growers expressed concern that the upcoming grape harvest could be their last. The gathering was hosted by Sava Giahgias' father, Jim, and South Australian independent MLC Frank Pangallo. Their key demands included making wine grape prices more sustainable, and improving support from the industry and government for growers. Prices for the 2024 vintage are confidential, and some wineries are still negotiating agreements, but the ABC understands some could be about $150 a tonne for red wine grapes like shiraz and cabernet. Mr Giahgias said the meeting was a chance for people to talk about turning their frustrations into collective action. "People are going broke," he said. "Growers cannot grow grapes for a third of the cost of production. "It's time that were are not treated like peasants, and that we are treated like business people." When contacted by the ABC, a spokesperson for the Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt referred to a December statement that said a major problem for Australia's wine industry was the collapse of the China market, which the government was working to stabilise. Accolade Wines, who accept the majority of the Riverland's grapes, as well as The Wine Group, and Kingston Estate, were contacted for comment. An Accolade Wines spokesperson says it is "currently in negotiations with CCW [Cooperative] growers for grape pricing for V24 [vintage 2024] and these are ongoing and confidential". The Wine Group (TWG) general manager Brigid Nolan said wineries were facing pressures from the global red wine surplus, and a declining demand for wine.
Greek Tribune Adelaide, South Australia
© 2021 Greek Community Tribune All Rights Reserved

Riverland wine grape growers are "going

broke"

March 2024 Tractors, harvesters and trucks have lined the streets of Renmark as growers in Australia's largest wine grape growing region protest for greater sustainability in their industry. Hundreds of farmers and wine grape growers drove through the South Australian Riverland town in trucks, tractors and harvesters at the beginning of February, before blocking both lanes of traffic in front of a hotel. The region, about 200 kilometres north east of Adelaide, is home to more than 900 growers that contribute about $400 million to the national economy. The tractor convoy was led by 25-year-old Sava Giahgias, who said he wanted to raise awareness about the unsustainability of an industry where farmers were paid below the cost of production for their grapes. "If the industry collapses, the Riverland will collapse," he said. The third-generation grower said despite the temporary disruption to traffic, people had been largely supportive. "A couple of guys stopped me and said, 'Good. Keep doing it'," Mr Giahgias said. "The Riverland is going to collapse if we don't do something about it. Us farmers are the Riverland. We are the food bowl." 'People are going broke' The protest followed a heated meeting at a property in Loveday on Tuesday, where more than 100 growers expressed concern that the upcoming grape harvest could be their last. The gathering was hosted by Sava Giahgias' father, Jim, and South Australian independent MLC Frank Pangallo. Their key demands included making wine grape prices more sustainable, and improving support from the industry and government for growers. Prices for the 2024 vintage are confidential, and some wineries are still negotiating agreements, but the ABC understands some could be about $150 a tonne for red wine grapes like shiraz and cabernet. Mr Giahgias said the meeting was a chance for people to talk about turning their frustrations into collective action. "People are going broke," he said. "Growers cannot grow grapes for a third of the cost of production. "It's time that were are not treated like peasants, and that we are treated like business people." When contacted by the ABC, a spokesperson for the Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt referred to a December statement that said a major problem for Australia's wine industry was the collapse of the China market, which the government was working to stabilise. Accolade Wines, who accept the majority of the Riverland's grapes, as well as The Wine Group, and Kingston Estate, were contacted for comment. An Accolade Wines spokesperson says it is "currently in negotiations with CCW [Cooperative] growers for grape pricing for V24 [vintage 2024] and these are ongoing and confidential". The Wine Group (TWG) general manager Brigid Nolan said wineries were facing pressures from the global red wine surplus, and a declining demand for wine.
Greek Tribune Adelaide, South Australia