Re-elected AUSVEG Chairman calls for urgent action on imports
The re-elected Chairman of the national peak industry body for vegetable and potato growers said today that urgent action would need to be taken on imports otherwise many Australian vegetable and potato growers would face even greater viability concerns.
Mr John Brent, owner of vegetable producer and processor Bunny Bite Foods based in Boonah in QLD, was re-elected unopposed for another term as AUSVEG Chairman at the AUSVEG AGM on Monday, and he used the opportunity to call for urgent action on what he described as the alarming influx of imported produce from countries like China, New Zealand and the United States.
“If the import situation continues along current trends then it is likely that many Australian vegetable and potato growers will face further viability issues,” Mr Brent said.
“Not only does this threaten Australia’s food security long-term, if we have this unhealthy reliance on imported food, but it is also a negative for the domestic economy, with horticulture employing around one third of all those employed in agriculture,” he said.
“We are lucky as consumers that we currently have extremely high quality produce here in Australia, thanks to the strict regulations in terms of quality assurance, however, Australian growers are being undercut in our own markets by foreign competitors, who are able to offer a cheaper product, but which we can’t guarantee will meet those same strict regulations that Australian growers adhere to,” he said.
Mr Brent has overseen a new direction at AUSVEG over the past 18 months. He was responsible for the appointment of the current CEO of AUSVEG, Richard Mulcahy in April 2009 and since that time AUSVEG has dramatically transformed its operations.
“Our National Convention in May was heralded as the largest gathering of the vegetable and potato industries in their history, and an even bigger event is being planned for April 2011 in Brisbane,” Mr Brent said.
“The future for AUSVEG is looking remarkably brighter than it was some 18 months ago, thanks to a reinvigoration of corporate support and an ambitious strategic plan which will position AUSVEG to provide a much more comprehensive level of representation for growers in a range of critical areas.”
Mr Brent said he was looking forward to his next term as Chairman as AUSVEG further developed its role in the political arena, looking to provide a greater appreciation for the huge challenges facing Australian farmers, particularly in the vegetable and potato sectors.
“AUSVEG has successfully stepped into the political arena, increased our media profile and our financial position within the past twelve months. We are in a much stronger position to execute and deliver on the needs of growers,” he said.
“I plan to meet with the Federal Minister for Agriculture, the Honourable Joe Ludwig next week and one of the key issues I will be raising with him is country of origin labelling. As far as AUSVEG is concerned it’s about time that consumers had a clear choice when they go to purchase food, as to where that product has actually come from.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew White, Manager – VIDP Communications, AUSVEG Ph: (03) 9822 0388, Mob: 0409 989 575, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org