Government proposes to lift ban on NZ potato imports

A proposal to lift the 24-year import ban on New Zealand potatoes has been met with resistance from Australian growers who have accused the government of trifling with the industry’s wellbeing.

A proposal to lift the 24-year import ban on New Zealand potatoes has been met with resistance from Australian growers who have accused the government of trifling with the industry’s wellbeing.

Growers worry that allowing foreign potato imports into the country could expose domestic crops to zebra chip disease, which affects the sugar and starch levels of potatoes, making them unfit for sale.

The proposal was made by Biosecurity Australia, which promised to impose strict quarantine rules to protect Australia’s $614 million potato industry, which is currently free from the disease.

The same strict biosecurity rules have overseen the import of over 13,000 tonnes of NZ tomatoes and capsicums since 2012 and there has been no detection of the disease in Australia.

However, industry body AUSVEG, which represents Australia’s 9000 vegetable growers, is still angry that the government has not blocked the proposal and has criticised the process that analyses fruit and vegetable imports.

AUSVEG has launched a campaign to fight the proposal featuring a video that depicts Julia Gillard and ministers Joe Ludwig and Craig Emerson as children playing a video game.

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