AUSVEG has welcomed an expression of support received this week from the Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA), for its ongoing campaign to prevent the import of fresh potatoes from New Zealand due to serious biosecurity concerns. 
“AUSVEG is very pleased to have received support from the LGA on this important issue. As the nation’s largest producer of potatoes, the threat of Zebra Chip disease is not only a major concern for South Australia’s potato growers, but also the state’s local communities,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Simon Coburn.  

AUSVEG is the leading voice in Australian horticulture, representing the nation’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers. 

The LGA has acknowledged the devastating impact that Zebra Chip disease would have for growers in the state if it were allowed to enter Australia, pointing to the destruction it has caused in recent years to the potato industries of New Zealand and the United States. 

“LGA’s support of AUSVEG’s Zebra Chip campaign confirms that there is an increasing level of concern about risks associated with the potato disease, at both an industry and local government level.”  

Transmitted by a small flying insect known as the Tomato-potato psyllid (TPP), Zebra Chip disease renders affected potatoes unsaleable, due to discolouration and a burnt taste when cooked. This disease has caused significant damage to the New Zealand potato industry, with economic losses estimated to be running in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“With clear opposition from numerous industry bodies, states and the scientific community, AUSVEG has continued to urge the Department of Agriculture to abandon lifting export restrictions on New Zealand potatoes,” said Mr Coburn.

In 2012, the Department of Agriculture released a draft review of its import conditions of fresh potato imports from New Zealand. The move has caused deep concern within the Australian potato industry of the biosecurity risk that lifting current restrictions would pose.    

“There continues to be a very real and legitimate concern right across the country about the impact that Zebra Chip disease would almost certainly have on the industry if it were allowed to enter and spread in Australia,” said Mr Coburn.  

AUSVEG presented evidence on the issue at a Senate Inquiry held in October 2012, highlighting the latest scientific research on the disease and the biosecurity dangers that would stem from lifting the current import restrictions. In addition, an animated YouTube video on the issue to raise public awareness of the threat posed to the industry as part of its ‘Don’t Take the Risk’ campaign.
“This endorsement from the Local Government Association of South Australia for AUSVEG’s efforts regarding Zebra Chip disease in an important affirmation that this is a serious issue that warrants national attention,” said Mr Coburn.

MEDIA CONTACT: Simon Coburn, AUSVEG Spokesperson 
Phone: (03) 9882 0277 Mobile: 0404 845 850 E-mail :