AUSVEG today called on governments at all levels to prioritise land for food production over proposed mining developments.

AUSVEG is the national peak industry body representing the interests of Australian vegetable and potato growers.

Communications Manager Hugh Tobin endorsed the position of Queensland Horticulture body Growcom who recently cautioned the government about the risks of placing mines in locations such as Felton on the basis that they threaten the quality of water feeding into irrigation aquifers in Queensland.

‘Mining developments in vegetable growing regions will put at risk the supply of good quality ground water for food production,’ Mr Tobin said.

‘Australia’s population is going to grow to 35 million by 2049. Governments need to recognise that we are going to need to feed more people and, as a consequence, they need to zone land accordingly.’

‘The government needs to make protecting food producing land a higher priority or else consumers will pay more for food and local economies will suffer. There are long term consequences of these decisions for future generations.’

In a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the impacts of mining in the Murray Darling Basin, Growcom noted that good quality agricultural land comprised less than five per cent of Australia’s total land mass.

Figures from Growcom also show that the value of horticultural production in the Felton/Cambooya area is in excess of $23 million per year, employing 400 people to provide a range of vegetables including lettuce, cauliflowers, cabbages, onions and potatoes.

‘While the proposed mine in the Felton/Cambooya region will create 125 jobs, the long term future of agriculture in the region will be put at risk,’ said Mr Tobin.

‘The other significant issue relating to the proposed mines is water usage. The mine and petrochemical plant proposed for Felton will require 16,000 megalitres of water per year.’

‘The proposed mine will draw large amounts of water from groundwater sources with negative consequences on flows into the Murray Darling system from southern Queensland.’

‘The potential pollution of aquifers by mining is also of serious concern for locals who rely on this water for drinking,’ he said.

MEDIA CONTACT: Hugh Tobin, Communications Manager, AUSVEG Ph: 03 9544 8098, Mob: 0431 939 920, Email: