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COSTS ON RISE: Zucchini grower Peter Buchanan – 80% of Australian vegetable growers have reported increasing costs of production are the biggest threat to their viability.
COSTS ON RISE: Zucchini grower Peter Buchanan – 80% of Australian vegetable growers have reported increasing costs of production are the biggest threat to their viability. Tanya Easterby

RISING input costs are the biggest threat to the future of Australian vegetable growers, according to grower responses released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences this week.

Gympie zucchini, bean and pineapple farmer and Gympie Packhouse operator Peter Buchanan agreed that production costs were "through the roof" and impacting the future of farming in the region.

He said increasing prices of fuel, electricity and fertilisers was taking its toll in an industry that has experienced stability in average prices for the past decade.

He said the input costs in Australia were so high that local farmers, like producers in other industries, could no longer compete with overseas exporters.

"You just can't export," he said.

"We're no different to Holden, Ford and Toyota; you just don't hear about us."

ABARES revealed a staggering 80% of vegetable growers had reported that increasing costs of production were the largest threat to their future viability.

In 2012-13, hired labour was estimated to have been the largest production cost, followed by contracts paid, fertiliser, seed, and fuel, oil and grease. Moreover, it was estimated electricity prices would increase by 13% from 2011-12.

Mr Buchanan said it was additional expenses including compliance costs and workers' compensation that were costing the industry.

AUSVEG spokesman Mr Hermann also said reduced vegetable production volumes, due to below average rainfall at the time of planting, had been a major contributing factor to the expected decline in vegetable growers' income in 2012-13.

Topics:  farming food

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