AUSVEG has welcomed the announcement by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) that it has commenced a survey of vegetable growers that will help identify challenges and trends across the vegetable industry. AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew White said the annual survey of growers will take place over the next few months and has been co-funded by Horticulture Australia Limited using the National Vegetable Levy with funding from the Australian Government.
“The survey will assist the vegetable industry to better understanding the challenges facing growers and to re-direct its R&D investment accordingly,” Mr White said.
“Surveyed growers have previously ranked the impediments to future business viability as increasing farm input costs and low prices due to imports, with the bottom 25% of growers experiencing negative farm cash income in 2010-11,” he said.
“The information in these surveys is very important as it assists the vegetable industry to measure financial performance and to better target R&D investment to the areas that most need it,” Mr White said.
“It is worrying that the 2010-11 survey shows that cash costs continue to increase, with average total cash costs up 11% in 2010-11 to $630,000 per farm,” Mr White said.
“It is particularly dire for some small and middle tier farms where the data suggests that unit production costs are far higher than larger farms. You have to wonder how long this can be maintained. The proportion of farms experiencing a negative farm cash income across the industry is still at around 17%. This is of great concern despite the report showing that average farm cash incomes were up by 14 per cent overall.”
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s vegetable growers.
Mr White said that investing in the export capacity of the industry was a challenge that the industry was keen to take on as a priority, despite the high Australia dollar.
“The Australian vegetable industry is valued domestically at around $3.4 billion at the farm gate and that value directly accounts for around 7 per cent of the gross value of agriculture, however, an oversupply in the fresh market and rising costs means that growers must look to new markets to keep their businesses sustainable long-term,” Mr White said.