Some Aussie Growers Leave Crop In Ground

Published online: Mar 22, 2005 Australia
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Growers in the Thorpdale area of the Australian state of Victoria are leaving their crop in the ground for the first time in 40 years.

They said the were offered only 10 to 14 cents a kilogram for Sebago brushed potatoes that cost them 20 to 25 cents a kilogram to produce. Supermarkets were selling brushed potatoes for as much as A$2.05 a kilogram, they said.

The low grower prices came after an oversupply in the marketplace because of good growing conditions in potato regions across Australia.

"It's the worst price I can remember," Thorpdale grower James Fahey told reporters. I've never known a year in Thorpdale where people have had to leave spuds in the ground."

At a crisis meeting attended by more than 30 potato growers and their families it was suggested the five local packing sheds should be centralized and with the area's crop sold as one brand.

"There are two big packing houses in Australia handling a fair percentage of it and two supermarkets," the meeting heard. "You're up against two giants wherever you turn."

The growers decided to form a committee to promote their potatoes as a unique product. The promotion would emphasize the area's growing conditions, keep chemical use low and produce potatoes high in solids that make them better to cook with and more nutritious.