Australia’s supermarket squeeze could soon hit the cost of cucumbers, tomatoes and berries as farmers warn it could be months before prices return to normal.
A shortage of workers and the rising cost of production has placed a handbrake on supply.
Farmers have warned their crops are at risk of rotting in the field because they do not have workers to pick them.
AusVeg spokesman Tyson Cattle told Nine the flood-affected areas in Queensland had also added to the price pinch.
“The reality is … it‘s going to take 12-16 weeks for supply to get back to normal,” he said.
“The cost of production issues are significant. Fertiliser costs, chemical costs, fuel costs as you‘re seeing, wage costs, all these different impacts are having critical impacts on growers to be able to plant their crops.
“That’s obviously going to have a flow-on effect to the Australian consumers.
Mr Cattle called on the government to fast-track visas for farm work and scrap plans to cut the Coalition’s Agriculture Visa, given the drop-off in backpackers in Australia.
“If we do have the labour coming in, then all of a sudden we can have the confidence to plant more product,” he said.
“As much as (the) backpacker (visa) serves a purpose for our industry, we don’t want to have to rely on a backpacker who is largely here to have a good time and enjoy themselves and enjoy the luxuries Australia has to offer.
“We don’t want to have to rely on that. We’re disappointed that the government hasn’t followed through in terms of the ag visa.”
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt met with stakeholders across the industry on Tuesday to talk through challenges in the sector.
Mr Cattle told Nine he had met with the new minister “a couple of weeks ago” and hoped he could work with him to “find a solution”.
“It’s really getting to a critical point to find a solution,” he added.
Extracted from The Australian