WA PotatoesChief Executive Officer’s ReportBY SIMON MOLTONICHIEF EXECUTIVE
Spring is finally here. After a very wet August it is pleasing to see some warmer weather. Winter has been reasonable for production with little frost or storm damage until the last month. Hopefully we are past the worst.Cost of production and profitability remain the immediate challenge for potato production. This is true around the country and internationally as well. While there has been some increase in price it has not been anywhere near enough to cover the increased costs. It seems that the increases amount to approximately $200/t across all industry sectors and right around the country. The struggle for appropriate returns has been well documented around Australia in all states.

Since the Industry meeting held in Bunbury in April, we have been exploring every avenue to address this issue. We have engaged with the ACCC to explore the potential of a collective bargaining agreement. This does not appear to be an appropriate option for our industry.

The Independent Arbiter for the Food and Grocers Code of Conduct is also inappropriate for our circumstance. This avenue is designed more for individual grievances rather than group or industry issues.

The PGA has been raising the issue nationally and has had good support from other states organisations and AUSVEG. It is one of AUSVEG’s top three priorities along with biosecurity and labor. It has been raised in meetings with the new federal Agriculture Minister. We strongly believe that the issue must be pursued from a national perspective as the major retailers view their purchasing practices from a national perspective. All state grower bodies have received templates for letters to lobby our federal Ministers to raise awareness and address this crisis.

Upcoming changes will bring threats and opportunities for our industry.
It is also the responsibility of growers to pressure merchants, and merchants to pressure retailers to raise returns. If we continue with a full supply chain approach, we will create the best environment for a positive result. This will require a sustained effort for success.

News on PSTVD is cautiously optimistic. The two properties where the original infections have been found seem to be the only properties affected.

Delimiting and track and trace measures have not identified any other private or public infestations. It is hopeful that this remains the case and the disease can be eliminated from the original affected properties.

Renovations at Horticulture House are finally completed. We are moving back in and advertising to lease the remaining office space. The renovations have presented many challenges and I commend the committee on their management to achieve a great outcome for all members.

We seem to be facing a never-ending stream of challenges. While addressing the immediate crisis of profitability we are also faced with pressure from Biosecurity, policy changes for Plastics, Water, Cultural Heritage etc. I believe the next great challenge will be around Net Zero govt policy. If we look overseas at New Zealand, European Union, United Kingdom, Canada, Sri Lanka, and many others, there are many changes coming that will need to be managed. These changes will bring threats and opportunities for our industry so we will need to be well represented and prepared in order to survive and even thrive.
IF we continue with a full supply chain approach, we will create the best environment for a positive result. MORE INFORMATION
Contact Simon Moltoni on 0447 141 752 or email simon@wapotatoes.com.au