The Coal River Products Association (CRPA) is an incorporated association which was established in 1967 after a successful community response to the bushfires which devastated southern Tasmania. A key group of farmers formed the Association to continue to provide support for their colleagues and to help develop new enterprises to assist the valley to get back on its feet economically. The need was identified to for farmers to diversify their operations, and a major goal was to address the irrigation needs of the Valley.
CRPA has been a viable and effective farmer organisation now for over 40 years, longer than any other in Tasmania, and is often held up as an example to others. It has been a very effective lobby group and has maintained close liaison with government departments and funding bodies, in order to complete a range of important Industry development, Landcare and related NRM projects.
The group has promoted innovative enterprises and sustainable agricultural practices, and the benefits are obvious in the valley today. The Association was one of the main instigators of the South East Irrigation Scheme. This started with the development of the Craigbourne Dam in 1986, and now includes pipelines and other infrastructure. Members of the Association promoted the need for irrigation and led public awareness campaigns. “New crops for new markets” was the rallying cry in the push for construction of the Craigbourne Dam.
To back its claims, the CRPA commissioned the Blundstone Rural Development Project Report in 1991, which analysed the valley’s potential and identified new, higher value crops and intensive horticulture that could be successfully developed in the area for interstate and overseas markets. Higher value crops were selected based on their characteristics to suit the soil types, topography and climate of the region, as well as their potential in local, national and international markets. The Blundstone Reports provided a foundation for the diversified enterprise mix now being carried out in the valley.
CRPA has been successful in having the South East Irrigation scheme augmented with water from the Derwent River through temporary pipelines in 2008/9, with more permanent improvements planned, based on a Preliminary Business Plan commissioned by us in 2008 and undertaken by consultants Davey and Maynard (now Macquarie Franklin).
CRPA has also successfully negotiated with Clarence Council for the introduction of re-cycled water from treated sewerage in the municipality. This is piped into the valley and will soon be stored in a holding dam to facilitate year-round supply.
Landcare and Natural Resource Management activities have included management of the Coal River via willow removal and revegetation, whole farm planning and farm tree planting, management of salinity, steep hillside fencing and revegetation, and improved soil management via minimum tillage, stubble retention and better cropping rotations. Weed management has been a focus of recent projects, including African boxthorn and serrated tussock.
The Association has demonstrated its ability to identify local agricultural problems and collectively search for solutions. It provides a forum for leadership, collaboration and collective action in the Coal River Valley. CRPA aims to keep members informed so they are able to embrace emerging trends and opportunities.
The Association's main aims are to:
- Promote sustainable agricultural practices and systems
- Coordinate political lobbying
- Provide professional development for members and
- Facilitate networking and social support for members
The CRPA has approximately fifty current members and has an Executive Committee of twelve people drawn from a wide range of farmers in the Valley.
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