Opposition Leader and Leader of The Nationals WA Shane Love MLA invites South West horticulturalists to attend a free forum in Manjimup next Wednesday, 7 February.
Mr Love said WA’s horticulture industry was a key economic driver for the region, the forum would provide an opportunity for growers to have a chat about issues impacting them.
“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,” Mr Love said.
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.
“In this cost-of-living crisis, West Australians are struggling to afford fresh fruit and vegetables whilst big supermarkets record breaking profits,” Mr Love said.
“Meanwhile, fruit and veg growers are telling us that the high prices seen in supermarkets aren’t being reflected at the farm gate.”
Mr Love said a recent survey by peak vegetable industry body AusVeg found “record low morale” for 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.”
Member for the South West Region and Shadow Minister for Climate Action Louise Kingston MLC said issues like water scarcity and climate variability posed significant challenges for local growers.
“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,” Ms Kingston 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.”
Ms Kingston said labour shortages, which were intensified as a result of COVID-19, were also a challenge for growers.
“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 from 7-8pm on Wednesday, 7 February 2024 at the Manjimup Gateway Hotel.