Storm Food

Reporter: Graeme Butler

Mick Monte is one of Perth's biggest market gardeners... he's been growing veggies for 55 years... but this weeks storm and the prospect of laying off workers has broken him. "I feel sorry for them because they are good workers i don't want to lose them"

Hectare after hectare of ruined veggies... a million dollars or so all up - and he's not alone ... market gardens the length of the metro area have been wiped out... and the timing couldn't seem crueler. "How far away from being harvested were these - they were ready to pick the next day becuase they picked up there they picked that bed there so you missed out by a day - by a day"

"This has been an absolute disaster right throughout the areas north of perth along the coast" Jim Turley from Vegetables W.A represents growers ...he says this devestation will have a quick and shocking effect on prices at the checkout. "Everything's been hit, but in the main lettuce celery and tomatoes and cabbages" So what does this mean for us at the check out well to put it in context this time last week this lettuce would have cost you $150 at the checkout this time next week expect to pay as much as $4 each but there are predictions the price could go even higher to as much as $6 a lettuce"

As well as lettuces... Cabbages were around $1.00 each Pre-storm - expect to pay up to $4,50 soon. Celery was about $1.00 a bunch - expect them to hit $3.00 a bunch and Tomatoes were around $2.80 a kilo - they're tipped to almost double to about $5.00 a kilo. "Tomatoes have already gone up and you see in the eastern states they've had severe flooding so tomatoes are up anyway and now of course with the losses in tomatoes you've going to see them rise as well" Growers are now forced to plough the ruined vegetables back into the ground to stop them rotting where they sit... with every metre profits are disappearing into the dirt.... the effects on prices will now be felt for months to come.

Mick Monte says the losses are catestrophic. He's always been willing to help people in need.. nine years ago he even opened his heart and gave a homeless man a house and a job.. it was an act of kindness that backfired.After years of trying to help out - Mick says he's the one that now needs a hand - he wants the premier to come and see what's going on first hand. "I'd like him to come out here and see what we are going throught in the next eight or ten weeks" Jim says "it's a loss of money income that's the big effect for growers and how do they cover htat loss and it's got us very worried cos we're not happy with the natural disaster assistance package because it's too small we believe the government should consider some kind of compensation in terms of relief for these growers right up adn down teh coast high as lancelin right down to Perth"Another option for growers could be trying to off -load damaged and marked produce - but it would be up to supermarket customers to get behind it.