Local produce industry optimistic
WHILE farming lobby groups warn of a 50 per cent rise in food prices after this week’s flood, the message from the Southern Downs is more optimistic.
Farming lobby group AgForce estimated up to 50 per cent of the state’s crops had been affected by heavy rain, which could lead to a 20 per cent loss.
AgForce president Brent Finlay said a loss estimate of $400 million was conservative and expected to rise.
However, Granite Belt leafy vegetable producer Tim Harslett said he didn’t suffer too badly.
He said he experienced less rain than some and as the region’s roads were only closed for a short period of time, the impact was minimal.
Mr Harslett said he was able to transport all his produce south and to Brisbane in time for the Christmas holidays.
“Prices have been good for most things,” he said.
“I think there’s a bit of a scare tactic as there isn’t really a shortage of food, except for places where they can’t get transport to, like Northern Queensland.”
He said his main competition as a leafy vegetable producer was from Victoria and that the quick-draining Granite Belt soil gave locals the advantage over places like Toowoomba.
“It’s been more challenging to grow in the wet. There are more diseases but on the whole everything is still growing.”
From a retailer’s point of view, the impact has also been minimal.
Warwick Supa IGA owner John Hyslop said due to the public holidays the store was already well-stocked on the days the roads were closed.
“The only thing we had a little problem with was fresh bread,” he said.
“But we just made more in store.”
Mr Hyslop said he didn’t anticipate rising food prices across the board, but some fruit and veg may go up.
“If any crops are wiped out, costs may rise,” he said.