Farmers around the country are getting the lowest prices in living memory for their produce and many are being driven from the land.
Imported foods, increased competition, deregulation and oversupply in some lines have hit producers hard - and many simply cannot make ends meet.
A Sunday Mail investigation has also found the supermarket juggernauts are pricing growers' goods at up to 10 times the amount they paid for them at the farm gate.
Apple grower Peter Darley, of Orange, NSW, said the economic conditions for farmers in the region were the worst he had ever seen.
"In some cases, farmers are getting as little as $1 to $1.50 per kilo (from wholesalers or supermarkets) and the supermarkets are selling up to $7 per kilo," he said. "This is the worst return I've ever seen on food." Mr Darley said apple growers needed to receive about $2.50/kg to cover growing, harvesting, packing and freight costs, and wages - and, if they are lucky, to make a modest profit.
"The returns for growers are pretty devastating," he said.
FARMERS around the country are getting the lowest prices in living memory for their produce and many are being driven from the land.