THE Potato Growers Association of WA Busselton chairman Vaughan Carter is disappointed with the state government’s move to deregulate the industry and feels let down by their offer.
Last week the WA agriculture and food minister Dean Nalder announced the state government would give potato farmers a $14 million industry adjustment package.
The money is for potato growers to help them transition during the industry’s deregulation which Mr Nalder said would end uncertainty for farmers.
Mr Nalder said the Potato Growers Association of WA had confirmed to government that the vast majority of growers wanted deregulation brought forward.
However, the Potato Growers Association president and chairman for Busselton and Marybrook Mr Carter said they were powerless and were ignored.
Mr Carter said they were disappointed with the result which would not allow smaller growers to finance moving into a new industry and they would not be able to compete with big producers.
He said when Colin Barnett announced deregulation the value of potato licences became worthless and potato growers with a sole income faced having obsolete equipment.
“No one will buy second hand equipment and the growers do not have ability to buy new stuff,” he said.
Mr Carter said WA had a small market and it did not take much excess product to flood the market.
He said some growers in WA had gone too far and produced a lot of waste.
When the potato industry became regulated, Mr Carter said the regulations were often reviewed and evolved over time to make the industry work.
He said the government did not believe the industry was exporting enough products despite research which was being conducted.
“In a national trend were consumption of potato is declining, the WA potato industry was holding firm and had an increase of sales,” he said.
“The eastern states looked at WA with jealousy and would have loved what we had that was the beauty of regulation.”
Vasse MP Libby Mettam said she worked hard to get a fair deal for growers in the region which will take effect in July.
Ms Mettam supported the report growers commissioned for an orderly transition to a deregulated market and provided their views to the Premier Colin Barnett, Mr Nalder and the Regional Development Minster Terry Redman.
While she understood many growers felt disappointed over the amount she was pleased the government agreed to provide a transitional package.
“It is important to point out that this is not about compensation for previous practices, but assistance to a deregulated market,” she said.
“There is no doubt Tony Galati won the support of the public as well as many state and federal politicians through his crusading efforts to deregulate the last bastion of statutory marketing and single-desk selling – the WA Potato Marketing Corporation,” she said.
“However, for all those who are jumping on the proverbial free-the-potato-grower bandwagon it is important to remember that the current system operated under the law of the land and Mr Galati decided he was above the law.”