9 Jul 2012

NZ potato industry close to returning to Australia

6:27 am on 9 July 2012

The New Zealand potato industry is a step closer to exporting fresh potatoes to Australia.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has released a draft report recommending imports of New Zealand potatoes be allowed for processing and is considering submissions.

Australia shut the door to all imports of fresh potatoes in 1988.

Potatoes New Zealand has been chipping away at getting access to Australia for six years.

Chair Stuart Wright says the draft approval is a step in the right direction, but he's not celebrating just yet.

He says he understands that New Zealand farmers are well within the capability of meeting Australia's biosecurity requirements.

"I would imagine there'll be some sort of review, it wouldn't surprise me if Australian interests don't see this as a positive move and may look to query the Australian government's recommendation on allowing imports of New Zealand fresh product back into Australia".

Mr Wright says New Zealand wants to grow the potato industry and the only real way to do that is by exporting more.

He says this will be a significant move for exporting New Zealand potatoes if it comes off.

Mr Wright does not anticipate the tomato-potato psyllid, now established in New Zealand, would jeopardize the proposal, because the pest can be transmitted only on green material.