Strawberry growers have been given strong support from the Nationals in Government with tough new measures targeting cowardly needle attacks.

New legislation passed this week increased the penalty for contamination of food up to 15 years imprisonment.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Nationals Leader Michael McCormack said the change was vital to protect farmers and the community.

“Some idiots are putting certain things into fruit and its not just dumb but also dangerous,” Mr McCormack said. “This affects hardworking farmers and their families who do so much good for our nation. We should all get stuck into some good Aussie produce – just make sure you cut your strawberries up – and enjoy the very best of Australian produce and support Australian farmers.”

Federal Nationals Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said strawberry growers had been kicked in the guts and they needed a hand, announcing $1 million to make more food safety officials urgently available to increase detection, fast track recalls and assist the strawberry industry to rebuild confidence.

“My department will regain and retain market share in key export markets, and maintain or restore confidence in the industry and supply chain,” Mr Littleproud said. “This flexible funding will help our strawberry growers assure our trading partners and the domestic market that our strawberries are safe. Funding will go to projects which show our strawberries are safe make sure our exports aren’t hurt.”