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TAS Country : September 16th 2010
12 Tasmanian Country Friday, September 17, 2010 News Price pain continues for potato growers KAROLIN MacGREGOR CONCERN: Nick Steel TASMANIA'S potato growers remain in limbo as negotiations over this year's prices continue with processing companies McCains and Simplot. Despite lengthy nego- tiations with both compan- ies, grower representative committees have not been able to reach an agreement. With planting season ap- proaching, the uncertainty over prices is causing growers some concern. Price negotiations with McCain started in Febru- ary. The company shocked growers earlier this year when it said it wanted to slash prices by $45 a tonne. Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association com- modities manager for plant industries Nick Steel said while negotiations were ongoing, the company's re- cent agreement with its South Australian growers to cut prices by $26.50 a tonne gave some indication of what Tasmanian growers may be facing. ''It is a real concern, because that's a significant price cut,'' Mr Steel said. He said it was hoped price negotiations with McCains would be finalised in a couple of weeks. ''Whatever price we get to, it will be up to individ- ual growers to decide if they want to sign a contract or not,'' he said. While the company is pushing for price cuts, it is believed McCains will want a similar amount of po- tatoes to the 60,000 tonnes contracted last season. Simplot potato grower group chairman Trevor Hall said the delay in set- tling on a price with McCain was also affecting Simplot growers. ''The indications we've been given is that Simplot don't want to do anything until McCains comes out with a price,'' Mr Hall said. ''It's quite frustrating be- cause obviously we want the best deal possible, so we don't want to rush in, but it's creating a lot of uncer- tainty amongst the growers.'' There are concerns that any significant price cuts could make growing pro- cessing potatoes unviable. Mr Hall said potatoes were a high-risk crop and cost between $13,500 and $14,000 a hectare to plant, grow and harvest. ''A lot of us grow them on fairly marginal ground so you've got a lot of money sitting there, and it doesn't take much to go wrong to lose a crop,'' he said. Mr Hall said some early crops would not be far off being planted, so the sooner price negotiations were completed the better. ''It will be cutting it pretty fine with some of the early crops,'' he said. ''It's a real shame be- cause potatoes are the back- bone of Tasmanian agricul- ture but it's just too easy to import products into the country now.'' Mr Hall said he did not expect Simplot prices to be finalised before the end of the month. Wary eyes watch for early locusts THERE has been no confirmed reports of locusts hatching in Victoria yet as farmers brace themselves for an imminent onslaught. Last week's PestFacts news- letter said there had been ''un- confirmed reports'' of early hatchings around Swan Hill while the Australian Plague Locust Commission's data sug- gested the first locusts should have emerged in the Mildura area last weekend. APLC director Mr Ad- riaansen said the peak hatching for the Mildura area remained at September 25, but the first hatchings could emerge up to 14 days prior to that peak. Locusts have already emerged around Nyngan, in NSW, with the APLC and auth- orities monitoring hatchings. ''We have got everything in place,'' Mr Adriaansen said. The Weekly Times Telstra ticked off over reception TWO mobile phones given Telstra's ''blue tick'' for rural use have been found to have poor reception in the bush. The latest edition of Choice magazine showed Telstra's Tough T90 mobile phone rat- ed second lowest in reception of 15 handsets tested. It rated a low 74 per cent in reception score in joint test- ing by Choice and the Kondin- in Group. Only one phone -- the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 handset -- rated lower with a reception score of 72 per cent. But Telstra scored well with its T108 handset, top- ping the reception ratings with 95 per cent, along with the Samsung C5220 phone. The 15 mobile phones were rated according to reception, ergonomics, emailing ability, access to the web and a range of other features. Don t pull the wool over your eyes, OJD is a serious threat and you can t wait to vaccinate. You may not think you are at risk, but OJD is spreading and may be on your farm right now. In fact, there are over 2000 farms that are known to be infected and for every infected farm, there are 4 farms not yet detected. The average mortality rate is over 6%. For more information, talk to your vet or Pfizer Sheep Product Specialist today on 1800 335 374. PROTECT YOUR SHEEP, FARM AND PROFITS -- VACCINATE WITH Pfizer Australia Pty Limited, 38--42 Wharf Road, West Ryde, NSW 2114. Registered Trademark of Pfizer Australia. PAL0235/TC Sheep Health. Performance. Growth. YOU WOULDN T WAIT TO FIX YOUR FENCE. DON T WAIT TO VACCINATE FOR OJD.
September 9th 2010
September 23rd 2010