TASMANIAN growers say the latest tidal wave of vegetable imports is a disaster, with many planning to leave the industry.
Imports of vegetables have increased by $122 million over the past 12 months, figures released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences show, The Mercury reports.
The value of imported vegetables for 2011-12 was $908 million compared with $786 million the previous year.
A separate ABARES survey found 59 per cent of vegetable growers believe that imports driving down prices are a hindrance to the future business viability of their farms.
Hugh Gurney, from vegetable growers peak body AusVeg, said growers had told him they planned to get out of the industry within the next 12 months.
Sixth-generation farmer Michael Badcock, who grows poppies, peas, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, brassica and other vegetables at the family farm at Forth in the North-West said the figures represented another nail in the coffin for Australian producers.
"This means there is $122 million that is not coming into our community," Mr Badcock said. "Other countries look after their producers, but our government policy allows produce grown for a pittance abroad, often under conditions that would not be permitted in Australia and subsidised by foreign governments, in order to gain an unfair advantage over Australia's growers."
He said most of it was dumped produce.
"It sits around in a warehouse waiting for a buyer," he said.
Tasmania is Australia's largest producer of potatoes, has the most carrot growers in the country, and is in the top two for growing beans.
The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and growers are pleading for shoppers to support local fruit and vegetable producers.
"We are being inundated with cheap vegetables, grown in conditions that no government in Australia would tolerate," said TFGA chief executive Jan Davis.
Read more at The Mercury.