Veg import shock

21 Dec, 2012 01:00 AM

A SPOKESMAN for Australia's vegetable growers says industry members are shocked at record levels of veg imports this year.

Data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has shown that imports of vegetables have increased by $122m over the past 12 months.

The figures indicate that the value of imported vegetables for 2011-12 is $908m, compared with $786m the previous year, an increase of around 16 per cent.

“With vegetable imports up a staggering $122m, Australian growers are being swamped by produce grown for a pittance abroad – often under conditions that would not be permitted in Australia – and subsidised by foreign governments in order to gain an unfair advantage over Australia’s growers,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Hugh Gurney.

“The high Australian dollar has also played a part in this increase, as many Australian processors and retailers are finding it cheaper to import overseas product than to stock locally grown produce,” said Mr Gurney.

According to a separate ABARES survey also released this month, 59 per cent of vegetable growers believe that imports driving down prices are a hindrance to the future business viability of their farm.

“I’ve spoken to growers who are planning get out of the industry within the next 12 months as rising input costs and competition from abroad force them to sell their produce at slim margins, often below cost price in some cases.

“It is heart-wrenching that many Australian vegetable growers struggle to see a future for their industry due to the tidal wave of cheap imports flooding the nation,” Mr Gurney said.

It has been a challenging year for the Australian vegetable industry, with the closure of several notable growing and processing operations, the most recent being iconic Australian brand Rosella entering into voluntary administration.

“If a sizeable operation like Rosella that has been around for over 150 years has struggled to get by in Australia, it is clear that smaller, more vulnerable growers and processors will find it exceptionally difficult to compete with mounting imports.

“Greater country of origin labelling requirements, greater anti-dumping powers and a round table to address the challenges facing the Australian vegetable industry in this turbulent climate are required if we are to see the future of the industry secured.

“AUSVEG urges all Australians to ensure that the food they are putting on their plates over the holiday season is locally produced and grown to the exacting standards of quality and safety demanded in Australia,” Mr Gurney said.

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Boonah Bob
21/12/2012 4:49:07 AM

If this present government and its dumb bureaucrats do not give a toss for the farmer and his family that slogs their guts out, what incentive is there to keep going? Might as well sack all your staff and go on the dole. If the Lib/Nats get elected next year they will change nothing. They all want to pander to overseas countries to get brownie point instead of having the guts to look after their own fellow countrman first, then if there is any left over we can help overseas. Australians first.
21/12/2012 5:41:26 AM

Thousands of our farms being bought by overseas interests, thousands of imports being dumped on us, illegal boat people invading our shores and a stalinsist anti australian govt in power allowing this to happen! And this galoot has finally woken up as to what is going on!
philip Downie
21/12/2012 8:36:35 AM

Somehow overseas growers can get away with all sorts of things not allowed here and that is just plain BS, level the playing field. More testing of incoming product (which is so low it's a disgrace), more action to stop dumping. When the duopoly have to start paying for this they may change their tune about local produce.
Ian Mott
21/12/2012 9:04:08 AM

We spend $billions giving boat people a win in life's jackpot lottery. Meanwhile, the Italians pay their boat people $3.40/hour to capture 85pc of the Australian canned tomato market. Gosh, which of these two business models is unsustainable? One country turns an event into a problem while the other turns the same event into an opportunity. Guest worker visa systems adjust their pay to twice what they could earn back home. Then every boat person could go directly onto it and the flow would dry up immediately. Farms would make a taxable profit and cut $2 billion off budget.
Bushie Bill
21/12/2012 12:43:51 PM

Sure sounds like Italy is bidding and beckoning for your presence and skills, Mutt. Send us an occasional (very occasion will be fine) postcard letting us know how you are getting on with all those $3.40ph second (or is it third?) class citizens, won't you?
Big Foot
21/12/2012 8:19:45 PM

'A SPOKESMAN for Australia's vegetable growers says industry members are shocked at record levels of veg imports this year.' SHOCKED? Like most industry organisations and government people you need to get out of your city offices and have a look at what is happening in the real world. Who is Ausveg anyway? I grow vegetables and have never heard of them
22/12/2012 12:39:52 AM

Its amazing that customs are so strict on visiting tourists but let in all this fruit and veg from countries with diseases we are trying to keep out. It still amazes me that its cheaper to ship corrots, lettuce, tomatoes etc from over seas than to produce them here. Farmers need to start a campaign to encourage people to buy local e.g. at farmers markets.
chemcorp alert
23/12/2012 5:05:49 PM

Just eight companies control 94pc of commercial vegetable seeds. The top four control 70pc and include Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer. It's all just swings and roundabouts to these agrichemical corporations, who otherwise shovel in profits from GM seed patents and herbicide sales.
R. Ambrose Raven
23/12/2012 9:14:57 PM

Tariffs, anyone? I invite suggestions as to what method would be simpler but as effective. Put a 25pc tariff on fruit and vegetable imports. In the same letter, formally withdraw from all - ha, ha, oh dear - "free" trade agreements. America's depreciation of its currency by printing money is - perhaps as was intended - turning FTAs into a weapon for the destruction of our domestic industry to the benefit of the US. Naturally the NFF and PGA are doing a great job for transnational agribusiness; we should acknowledge their commitment to the destruction of Australian agriculture.
Jock Munro
24/12/2012 8:51:55 AM

The NFF just don't appear to comprehend the hypocrisy of the farm sector being fully exposed to global competition and protectionism, whilst our domestic economy is protected by a regulated wages system and rules and regulations regarding health and safety and food quality.
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