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Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - ROGER HAN­SON

AN in­dus­try score­card shows the im­pact of huge rain events and sea­sonal con­di­tions on Tas­ma­nia’s veg­etable grow­ers.

In 2015-2106, two big rain events and a dry spring led to a drop of 12.4 per cent in the value of the sec­tor.

Fig­ures from the Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Agri­cul­tural and Re­source Eco­nom­ics and Sciences show Tas­ma­nia ac­counted for 10 per cent of Aus­tralia’s 2300 veg­etable-grow­ing farms. Na­tion­ally veg­eta­bles made up 6 per cent of the gross $3.6 bil­lion agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion.

ABARES fig­ures show na­tion­ally the num­ber of veg­etable farms dropped by 37 per cent be­tween 2006-2007 and 2015-2016, mostly in Queens­land, Vic­to­ria and NSW, while Tas­ma­nia was sta­ble.

The State Gov­ern­ment’s Tas­ma­nian Agri-Food score­card 2015-2016 showed the the gross value of the veg­etable in- dus­try in the North-West was $107 mil­lion, from 5285 hectares on 205 farm en­ter­prises.

The North pro­duced $87 mil­lion on 6256ha across 158 farms. In the South 32 farms on 841ha pro­duced $23 mil­lion

Over­all the state’s far­m­gate value was $217 mil­lion with a pro­cessed food value of al­most $560 mil­lion.

Sea­sonal chal­lenges caused a 12.4 per cent tum­ble in the value of veg­eta­bles be­cause of a drop in pro­duc­tion vol­umes.

Agri­cul­tural econ­o­mist at the AgriGrowth de­part­ment Mary Ben­nett said the sea­sonal con­di­tions hit the val­ues, but the in­dus­try did not shrink thanks to in­creased plant­ing.

“The rain in­ter­fered with some veg­eta­bles, for ex­am­ple onions, and car­rot yields in­creased. Car­rot ex­ports al­most dou­bled to $6.7 mil­lion from $3.6 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year be­cause of more ex­port mar­kets open­ing up,” she said.

Onions re­main the top in­ter­na­tional veg­etable ex­port worth $18 mil­lion, the main des­ti­na­tion be­ing Bel­gium.

Tas­ma­nia is a ma­jor pro­ducer of frozen veg­eta­bles. Of three plants, two process potato chips and the third mainly peas and beans.

Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion veg­etable coun­cil chair­man Nathan Richard­son, a potato farmer at Thirl­stane in the North-West, said cer­tain ar­eas of the in­dus­try were now grow­ing.

He said there were in­creased vol­umes of veg­eta­bles to Sim­plot’s Ulver­stone and Devon­port plants and more pota­toes go­ing into Sim­plot Ulver­stone and the McCains’ plant at Smith­ton.

“There is de­mand from pro­ces­sors and pack­ers but that de­mand is not be­ing re­flected to grow­ers.

“Pro­ducer costs are in­creas­ing with farm­ers chal­lenged with wa­ter and elec­tric­ity price in­creases.”

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