Small vegetable farms under pressure

THE number of small Australian vegetable farms has reduced by quarter in the past year, says a new report.

Published by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences and commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, the report was the result of an annual survey of the industry.

Survey results suggest that of the bottom 25 per cent of farms, 61 per cent have indicated increased farm input costs are the leading impediment to business viability.

"It is concerning that 13 per cent of farms within this category have said they may leave the industry within the next five years," said AUSVEG deputy CEO Andrew White.

"Smaller sized farms do not have the ability to be able to benefit from economies of scale in the same way that their larger competitors can. Cost and price pressures are causing a lot of small business growers to exit the market completely."

Mr White said the lack of a thriving small business contingent within the vegetable industry could dramatically affect its long-term sustainability.

"Small business provides jobs for 4.5 million Australians and produces over $330 billion of Australia's economic output," he said.

"The question needs to be asked, what can we do to help battling Australian small business farmers?"

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