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SA vege producers call for support to grow

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Despite an increased yield this year, South Australia’s vegetable growers say they need government support to continue to grow.

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AUSVEG SA state manager Jordan Brooke-Barnett said vegetable production had risen but to sustain this more support was needed from state and federal governments.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) found in its vegetable farm survey that South Australian vegetable production had increased to an average of 1,415 tonnes per farm in 2014-15, up from 1,288 tonnes per farm in 2013-14.

Brooke-Barnett called on government to support innovation in horticulture.

“The vegetable industry in South Australia faces ongoing challenges, but these latest figures show that constant innovation can help our hard-working growers to stay profitable,” Brooke-Barnett said.

“Now we just need the federal and state governments to come to the table and help our industry secure the water infrastructure it needs to grow into the future.”

Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, SA Senator Anne Ruston, told InDaily the government wanted to reduce red and “green” tape to help farmers achieve better returns.

“It’s a positive result, and one that the industry and AUSVEG SA should be proud of,” Ruston said.

“We are a government that has a clear focus on reducing red and green tape so that our producers can get a better return at the farmgate and I congratulate the South Australian vegetable industry for their constant innovation.”

She said federal funds were already being allocated for horticultural improvements

“This government has already committed $500 million to a National Water Infrastructure Development Fund to improve water supply and security in rural and regional areas – so delivering on water infrastructure is certainly a major priority for the government and portfolio.”

The ABARES survey showed higher productivity contributed to an 8 per cent increase in vegetable cash receipts to $712,000 in 2014-15, up from $654,900 per farm in 2013-14. Over the same period, average farm costs are estimated to have decreased by 2 per cent to $12,500 per farm.

“Rising production levels in conjunction with falling costs are a sign that growers are working hard to increase their farm productivity,” Brooke-Barnett said.

“This shows that the South Australian vegetable industry is incredibly resilient, despite the challenges posed by high labour costs and access to infrastructure.”

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