IT is the younger generation of tobacco growers that still have the most hurtful memories of the meeting that was called in Myrtleford on October 26, 2006, to decide the future (or not) of the tobacco industry in the district.
Merriang’s Frank and Rob Caponecchia, along with neighbor Stefan Saric, still shake their heads when they talk about the three-hour meeting that made the decision.
“That’s all the time we were given,” the three farmers said.
“In August we all had seedlings in hothouses ready to be planted out, then in September there was some talk about industry closure and next thing, suddenly, a meeting was called on October 26 and we were told to make the decision then and there.
“It was just too quick,” the trio said.
Frank and Rob’s parents purchased 130ac (52ha) in 1965 and moved to Merriang a few years after sailing to Australia in search of a better life.
Frank joined the business in 1984, while Rob came on board in 1998.
Meanwhile Stefan’s parents, Greg and Carmen, also arrived in Australia in 1965 and purchased land in Ovens and Merriang, planting out 60ac (24ha) of their country in tobacco.