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Freight

Why farmers are being forced to cut winter crops in half

Lockyer Valley vegetable farmers will almost halve their winter productions this year as coronavirus impacts not only labour hire but also export.

Ausveg reported that in 2020, Australia’s fresh vegetable export recorded an average decline of 7.9 per cent with less planes and emerging sea freight issues.

Lowood grower Andrew Jackwitz was forced to use more sea freight because of the increase in airfreight costs.

“We have used airfreight for about 90 per cent of our export until last year, we would have done about 60-40 sea freight,” he said.

Mr Jackwitz said normal airfreight was about $7 a carton, but during the pandemic it escalated to $21/carton, while sea freight remained at $3/carton.

He said this year’s main issues would be water and labour shortages and said he would cut about 40 per cent from his winter production.

Lockyer Valley vegetable grower Greg Lerch at his Laidley farm. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

Lockyer Valley vegetable grower Greg Lerch at his Laidley farm. PHOTO: ALI KUCHEL

 

“I think the main issue is going to be the workers,” he said.

“We have been pretty good up until now.”

From January to September, brassica export, which includes broccoli and cauliflower, declined by 30.8 per cent, with just 4580 tonnes shipped out.

Pumpkins were the only vegetable to increase in volume export, with an additional 15.6 tonne exported last year.

Singapore remained the only trading partner that recorded a positive increase in both export value and volume during the nine-month period.

Both Thailand and South Korean recorded an average decline of 27.3 per cent.

Laidley Heights grower Greg Lerch said he would cut his winter production in half, saying export, water and labour hire shortages were key triggers.

“It’s pretty scary, broccoli was a real major exporter and it just shut right down,” he said.

“That’s why the prices were poor in the Australian market.”

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