From flood to waste

AN OVERSUPPLY of vegetables will see Lockyer Valley farmers leaving their crops to rot in the ground.

After seeing crops washed out or drowned in January, an oversupply of vegetables has meant picking them is no longer worth the cost.

Mt Sylvia farmer Brian Crust said the price his produce is receiving is not worth the cost of picking it.

"Basically we're leaving crop behind because it's not worth cutting, yet on the chain store shelves it's still worth a lot of money, I just can't understand it ," he said.

"There were a few little periods this year where we broke even but now we're back into this hard time of the year where there is less demand for winter veggies."

Mr Crust is far from alone, stating that other Lockyer Valley farmers are suffering from the same plight.

For most of the Lockyer Valley's farmers a strong crop looked like some relief after their farms were all but washed out in the January floods.

Mr Crust's watermelon crop was severely water damaged during the floods and much of his broccoli and celery crops will be left unharvested.

He said many Lockyer Valley farmers held out little hope of this season turning their fortunes around.

"Most farmers sustained a lot of damage this year, so we've been trying to recoup those losses," he said.

"Wages are up; fuel's up, electricity's up and our returns are getting less.

"Something's going to have to give."

Mr Crust said without a major change of fortunes the Lockyer Valley agricultural industry would be facing very tough times.

"Unfortunately the traditional family farmer is under threat. It's just not going to be viable," he said.

"There is traditionally ups and downs with farming but it seems like there is a lot more downs than ups these days."

Growcom chief executive officer Alex Livingstone said vegetables were run on a pure supply and demand basis.

"If you're having a bumper crop, it's likely your neighbour is too," he said. "It's not uncommon; everyone does their damnedest to avoid it though."

Mr Livingstone said a huge crop in the Lockyer Valley, along with strong crops in other markets, was to blame for the oversupply.


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