AU: Ausveg stands firm against potato imports


Ausveg has stated that there are no biosecutiry conditions that it would agree to that would allow the importation of New Zealand potatoes.

Australia closed the door to potato imports back in 1988. Recently Biosecurity Australia has released a draft paper outlining proposed conditions for importing potatoes for processing.

The move was welcomed by the New Zealand potato industry, which has been trying to achieve market access for the past six years.

However, Ausveg opposes the changes, citing the increased risk of infection coming into the country from the tomato-potato psyllid, which causes the devastating zebra chip virus.

Ausveg chief executive Richard Mulcahy says it will not be swayed into risking the importation of potatoes.

He says the disease has been worse than expected in New Zealand and lost the industry $200 million.

“Much as we all love trade between the two countries, we do not believe this sort of risk is worth taking.”

But Potatoes New Zealand chair Stuart Wright says it is confident potatoes grown here can meet the standards required for export.

Mr Mulcahy will have the chance to debate the issues with New Zealand growers at a Horticulture New Zealand conference in Auckland next week.