John Thornton says local farmers need support to keep them above water.
John Thornton says local farmers need support to keep them above water. Georja Ryan

Farmers take new hit

REGIONAL farmers are bracing for battle as Coles slashes the price of its fruit and vegetables.

A good growing season means the big supermarket can diminish prices to cater for the amount of produce, but Warwick Farmers Market operator John Thornton said it would push local farmers to the ground.

"Our worry is what effect Coles is going to have on the market, if it continues like bread and milk - how low can you push the farmers' market?" Mr Thornton said.

He said if markets were to lose business, farmers who do not hold a quality assurance certificate would struggle to sell their produce.

"Unless the Federal Government can step in and help Australian farmers, I think we'll be in for a grim time, and the last thing we want to do it lose our farmers," Mr Thornton said.

Coles general manager for fresh produce Greg Davis said Coles expected an increase in sales by offering customers low prices on fruit and vegetables, providing a more certain market for growers.

But this only applies to those who supply to the big chain supermarkets.

Mr Thornton said the region needed to support small farmers to help prevent the demise of local produce, before the Australian farming industry became lost in international trading.


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