Adjustment package follows deregulation

30 Nov, 2016 10:05 AM
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WA potato growers now have access to $12m from a grower assistance package following the degregulation of the potato market on September 30.
WA potato growers now have access to $12m from a grower assistance package following the degregulation of the potato market on September 30.

POTATO growers now have access to a $12 million State government adjustment package following the deregulation of the potato market.

The funds, which were released last week, were part of a promised $14m package for industry following the abolition of the Potato Marketing Corporation (PMC) on September 30, ending the 70 year-old regulated market in WA.

Agriculture and Food Minister Mark Lewis said $12 million of Royalties for Regions funding would provide growers with greater choice and flexibility to pursue higher value markets and value adding opportunities.

"This package recognises significant changes to individual businesses may occur as a result of deregulation and will support growers moving forward," Mr Lewis said.

Potato Growers Association of WA (PGA) chief executive officer Simon Moltoni said there had been strong uptake from growers accessing the funds.

He said the money was being used by growers to plant other crops, which also opened up opportunities for employment in local communities.

"It is an exciting opportunity for growers to look at and invest in other high value crops," Mr Moltoni said.

Eligible growers have until December 8, 2016 to apply for funds under the package that is administered by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA).

The allocation of funds is based on recommendations from a working group, including the PGA, Potato Marketing Corporation and DAFWA, as well as industry feedback.

Adjustment payments will be based on growers' average production for the domestic market over a three-year period and compliance standing with the PMC.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the package would provide critical funds for individuals to adjust to the new market conditions.

"Growers may consider using the funds to improve existing infrastructure to increase production and productivity, develop strategies to increase market share, or transition out of the industry," Mr Redman said.

"An additional $2 million has also been made available, under a co-funding arrangement with the Potato Growers Association, for industry development in WA, including investments in research and development, marketing and retaining access to varieties."

This funding was expected to be made available in the coming weeks, which Mr Moltoni said would be beneficial in helping develop new markets for WA crops, as well as used for research and development and industry marketing.

Currently WA potato prices are very strong due to floods across South Australia - Australia's largest potato producing state - significantly affecting supply, which was creating opportunities for WA potatoes in the Australian domestic supply.

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