VICTORIAN potato growers will face fewer quarantine restrictions when selling their potatoes interstate.
The state government yesterday announced potato farmers who have not had their crops infected by potato cyst nematode (PCN) will no longer need routine PCN surveys of their crops.
Victorian Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the new regulations would be in place before this season’s harvest.
Speaking at the Victorian Certified Seed Potato Authority annual general meeting on Tuesday, Mr Walsh said farmers had spent $2.7 million on about 21,000 soil samples since 1994.
Victorian Potato Growers Council chairman Frank Rovers described the announcement as “a good news story that supports enforcing good farming practice using certified seed”.
“It will have a significant impact in Koo Wee Rup and Thorpdale, where they’ve been under quarantine conditions for quite some time,” Mr Rovers said.
“Quarantine has been based on a 200 kilometre radius from an outbreak. From November, only infected and linked properties require certification. By linked, I mean adjoining properties or those that might share machinery.
“The only crops tested in Ballarat for PCN are seed crop, as part of their certification, and that will continue to be the case. That’s part of having certified seed.”
About 320 Victorian farm business will be able to sell produce throughout Australia, apart from Western Australia, without PCN certification.
“To help the (Victorian potato) industry to grow further, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries has worked tirelessly to implement a new regulatory model that places fewer restrictions on growers, while still protecting the industry from threat of disease,” Mr Walsh said.
“The new regulatory model will save the Victorian potato industry about $48,000 a year in reduced soil testing alone.”
Mr Walsh said the government had also set a goal of doubling production levels by 2030 through innovation and research.