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Guarantees on farm gate prices needed, say farmers

31 January 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) is calling on Coles to demonstrate how its latest campaign slashing the price of fresh fruit and vegetables is not going to impact on the farm gate prices for Australia’s food growers.

NFF President Jock Laurie said that on the day the UN has released its latest report, warning of the risk that not enough food will be produced to feed the world’s booming population, Coles has announced that it is cutting fresh food and vegetable prices.

“The UN report shows that demand for food is expected to grow exponentially, and production must increase in order to keep pace,” Mr Laurie said.

“Yet at the same time as the UN predicts that demand is soon going to exceed supply of food, Coles has chosen to slash fruit and vegetable prices.

“The UN estimates that within the next 20 years, the world’s population will need 50 percent more food. The simple fact is this: unless food production increases, demand for food will outstrip supply, which means the cost of food will increase for consumers at home and abroad.

“What is urgently needed is increased investment in methods to increase food production, and sensible decision making around policy areas that threaten agriculture.

“We need a long-term perspective on competing land uses, like mining and coal seam gas developments, that may reduce the amount of arable land available for agriculture. We need a strategic approach to water management to ensure that there is enough water available to achieve a balance between food production, rural communities and the environment. And we need increased investment in agricultural research and development to help our farmers boost their production levels.

“Ultimately, unless we can find a way to sustainably increase food production through such measures, consumers can expect to see food prices escalate as supplies fall further behind global demand.

“Perhaps most importantly, we need consumers to understand that a cut in their fresh fruit and vegetable prices may be good for their hip pockets in the short term – but not necessarily positive for the farmers who grow the produce.

“We are seeking iron clad guarantees that farm gate prices will not be slashed in line with this pricing decision by Coles,” Mr Laurie said.

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