Cultivation/Production, New Zealand, Australia

West Australian potato growers fear new water fee

Potato farmers say proposed water re-licensing fees could be the final straw at the end of a tumultuous run that has included the industry’s deregulation, a factory closure and crop pests.

Submissions closed earlier this month on the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s proposal to introduce re-licensing fees to water users in the agricultural sector — a move that has been met with uproar from vignerons and farmers.

Water Minister Dave Kelly said he understood “nobody wants to pay anything, even for a precious commodity like water” but doubted the potato industry’s survival pivoted on an annual fee of “at most” $900.

The potato farmers who remain after the industry’s mass exodus following deregulation, the Canning Vale Smith factory’s closure, and destruction from diseases such as tomato potato psyllid and dickeya dianthicola, said the “simplistic” view could mark the end of the road for them.

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