Kiwi spud threat to valley
THE risk of importing exotic disease by allowing New Zealand potatoes into Australia has the Lockyer Valley mayor spitting chips.
Cr Steve Jones said the Federal Government's moves to allow the importation of potatoes into the country from New Zealand have the potential to decimate the $300 million a year industry in the Lockyer Valley.
Cr Jones said foreign competition and exotic disease could destroy an industry that had long been a cornerstone of the valley. New Zealand growers have been battling the zebra chip disease since 2008.
Cr Jones said it would be "totally irresponsible" of the Federal Government to allow Kiwi potatoes into Australia due to the risk of the disease.
"The disease wiped $130 million off the New Zealand potato industry and we simply can't risk allowing potatoes from New Zealand into Australia and potentially into the Lockyer Valley," he said.
"While New Zealand is starting to get the disease under control, not enough is known about it for authorities to give an iron-clad guarantee that it won't spread to the Lockyer Valley and that's a risk that I'm not prepared to take.
"This disease which turns starch into sugar spreads very quickly and doesn't just target potatoes, but other vegetables including tomatoes."
Cr Jones said allowing New Zealand potatoes to be imported would be another blow to struggling Lockyer farmers.
"Despite having some of the most fertile soils in the world and the best farming practices, more and more vegetables are being imported into Australia.
"Too much is at risk to allow the Commonwealth Government to lift a 20-year ban on importing potatoes from New Zealand, but council can't fight this one alone."