Veggie imports hurt farmers

Farmer Alan Richards says there is no point in importing vegies when they are grown here for most of the year.
Farmer Alan Richards says there is no point in importing vegies when they are grown here for most of the year. Kate Dodd

NOBBY onion farmer Alan Richards says he is disgusted by the amount of vegetables being imported into Australia.

He said there was no reason for vegetables such as onions, capsicum and tomatoes to be imported because farmers grew most produce on a seasonal basis throughout the year.

"What is the point when we have got them for almost 12 months of the year?" he said.

"I know farmers who have crops in South Australia and Gatton and in the Atherton Tablelands who grow with the seasons."

His comments came after new statistics were released for vegetable imports which show an increase by 10%, or $54 million, in 2010-2011.

Ausveg revealed asparagus was being flown in from Peru for $65 for a 7kg box, which is three times the amount that Australian spears cost when they are in season, while Chinese garlic and onion imports doubled in four years.

Mr Richards did not blame the television cooking shows such as Masterchef for the soaring imports, but said they could be a contributing factor.

"It's like everything else, everyone has got to have it now," he said.

"Australians are spoilt and can get everything all the time."

He said that until the time came when Australian farmers could not grow certain produce, certain vegetables should not be imported because it was hurting local businesses.

"Australia needs to wake up to the fact that if they do not support us, we are going to be out of a business."

Topics:  farmer imports vegetables

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