Federal Nationals Member for Riverina Michael McCormack is backing calls for the Federal Government to establish an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into fruit and vegetable pricing at supermarkets.
“I unequivocally support the calls for an ACCC inquiry into fruit and vegetable prices, which we have seen skyrocket amid Labor’s cost-of-living crisis,” Mr McCormack said.
“It’s obvious to anyone shopping at the supermarket that prices do not stack up. Take for instance zucchinis, which farmers sell for as little as $1.80 per kilo but consumers pay up to $10 per kilo.
“This inquiry is needed in addition to the inquiry The Nationals have called for into meat prices which was in response to huge discrepancies in the meat market.
“We saw lamb prices drop to as little as $1 per head whilst the supermarket prices didn’t budge.”
Mr McCormack said consumers are simply paying too much and farmers aren’t earning enough.
“There’s a Bermuda Triangle of cash and the ACCC needs to do its due diligence.
“In addition, the Albanese Government is recklessly and consistently indifferent to the fate of Aussie farmers.
“In November last year, the Government passed changes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan which is seeing 450 gigalitres of water, normally used to produce our food and fibre, stripped away from our farmers.
“On top of this, the Albanese Government’s changes to the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility scheme, which have mandated a minimum of 30 hours of work a week in an industry where work availability varies significantly, is making the scheme unviable for farmers and is increasing labour costs.
“Farmers face a situation in which they are struggling with increased input costs caused by poor policy of the Labor Government, while being squeezed by the big supermarkets which refuse to pay a fair price for produce.
“This is a situation which is both bad for farmers and for ordinary Aussie families which are facing surging power bills and housing prices as part of Labor’s cost-of-living crisis.
“What we need is for farmers to be paid fairly, otherwise they simply won’t be able to continue to farm.”
Mr McCormack said according to a survey by AusVeg, 30 per cent of vegetable growers are considering leaving the industry this year.
“When farmers pack up and quit, we get more of our food imported and rural communities begin to struggle as their primary industries leave.
“The government should be looking at every tool available to ensure both farmers and consumers are being treated fairly by the big supermarkets.
“Taking up The Nationals’ proposal for an ACCC inquiry would be a good first step to support our farmers and consumers.”