Nationals WA to hold growers forum in Manjimup on Wednesday night
Opposition Leader Shane Love MLA is inviting South West horticulturalists to attend a free forum in Manjimup on Wednesday night at the town’s Gateway Hotel to discuss issues impacting growers in the region.
Mr Love said WA’s horticulture industry was a key economic driver for the region and notes the lack of transparency between the prices at the supermarkets and the deals at the farms.
“We know our fruit and vegetable growers have been facing a number of challenges in recent years, including increasing production costs, tightening margins and difficulties dealing with the major supermarkets,” he said.
“In this cost-of-living crisis, West Australians are struggling to afford fresh fruit and vegetables whilst big supermarkets achieve record breaking profits.
“Meanwhile, fruit and veg growers are telling us that the high prices seen in supermarkets aren’t being reflected at the farm gate.”
The Nationals WA recently backed calls for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into fruit and vegetable pricing in supermarkets, which the Federal Labor Government has confirmed will now occur.
Mr Love said a recent survey by peak vegetable industry body AusVeg found “record low morale” among growers.
“AusVeg now reports that, alarmingly, more than 30 per cent of Australia’s vegetable growers are considering leaving the industry this year. All levels of Government need to be working together to ensure our growers are supported and remain viable,” he said.
The Shadow Minister for Climate Action and Member for the South West, Louise Kingston, said issues surround water security and climate variability posed significant challenges for growers in the region
“Water security is absolutely vital to ensuring our growers can continue to produce the high-quality fruit and vegetables West Aussies love, but reduced water availability can lead to lower crop yields and impact the quantity and quality of produce,” she said.
“We know our growers want to see initiatives to improve water security, efficiency, and monitoring and The Nationals WA are keen to support them so they can continue to deliver the fruit and vegetables enjoyed by WA families and around the world.”
She also noted labour shortages, which were intensified as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as another challenge for growers in the region.
“It has been a constant struggle for many growers to find seasonal staff for planting, harvesting and processing, and potential changes to backpacker visas flagged by the Federal Labor Government are a worry for many WA farmers.”
The horticulture forum will be held at 7pm on Feburary 7 at the Manjimup Gateway Hotel.
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