Growers welcome NZ decision to not pursue fresh potato exports to Australia
AUSVEG, Australia’s Peak Industry Body for vegetable and potato growers, has welcomed the decision by Potatoes New Zealand to withdraw its application to the Australian Government seeking market access for fresh potatoes for processing into Australia.
AUSVEG has stood resolutely against New Zealand’s attempts to export fresh potatoes into Australia, with the potato industry expressing concerns about the serious ramifications that a potential incursion of the Tomato-potato psyllid – Liberibacter sp. complex could have on the domestic industry.
“We are extremely relieved that the New Zealand potato industry has withdrawn its application to export fresh potatoes into Australia,” said AUSVEG CEO Richard Mulcahy.
“The threat of the Tomato-potato psyllid entering Australian potato farms is highly significant, as the pest is not yet present in Australia and it often carries the bacterium that causes Zebra chip disease, which can significantly reduce the yield and health of potato crops and render potatoes unsaleable.”
“The New Zealand potato industry has been devastated by the effects of Zebra chip disease, which has left growers to deal with millions of dollars’ worth of damage to their industry. This is certainly not a scenario we want to see replicated in Australia.”
“The Australian potato industry is currently free of the Zebra chip disease and it is vital that our industry retains this status in order to protect our domestic potato industry from the devastation that has severely damaged the New Zealand industry.”
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.
Through AUSVEG, the Australian potato industry has lodged its objections to the import of New Zealand fresh potatoes, highlighting the lack of scientific rigour applied to imports of fresh produce from other countries and citing the selective nature of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Biosecurity Import Risk Analyses (IRAs).
“A Senate Committee echoed our concerns regarding the import of New Zealand fresh potatoes in 2014, noting a lack of confidence in the Department’s ability to keep the Tomato-potato psyllid and Zebra chip disease from entering the country,” said Mr Mulcahy.
“Our potato growers are already doing it tough due to increasing production and labour costs and tightening profit margins; they do not need to have any added pressures on their growing operations.”
“This decision comes as a great relief to our growers as their hard work and dedication will not be undermined by a preventable incursion of Zebra chip disease from imported potatoes.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Shaun Lindhe, AUSVEG Manager – Communications
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0405 977 789, Email: email@example.com