The proportion of vegetable farms in Australia with negative farm cash income remained steady in 2010-11 at 17% although there were marked variations across the country. There was a strong increase in the number of growers with negative cash incomes in Victoria, more than double the number in 2009-10 at 23%, in Western Australia up to 30% and Tasmania up to 28%. In contrast the proportion of growers with negative cash income fell significantly in Queensland and New South Wales, both down to 12% while the number of growers in this situation fell to historic lows in South Australia, at 4%.
Growers can be pushed into a negative farm cash income position due to climatic conditions or due to a sharp fall in the prices received for vegetables on delivery to the market. Vegetable growers can move in and out of negative farm cash flows from year to year but the persistently high level of growers in this situation (one in six on a yearly basis) is a cause for concern. The figures indicate inadequate returns on a consistent basis to maintain sustainable returns to the number of existing growers.