There is a real threat of a farmers’ blockade of Simplot’s facilities in Tasmania and Victoria after talks held yesterday between the US-owned processor and aggrieved potato growers ended without resolution.
Farmers have been campaigning for two months to force processors to agree to a A$30 (US$15.9) increase per tonne on the A$195 currently paid. McCain Foods has already agreed to a two-year A$31 price increase after farmers blockaded its Smithton plant on 1 August.
A price increase offer suggested by Simplot yesterday was rejected by grower groups however, farmers’ advocate Richard Bovill explaining to The Mercury that: “They are still not recognising that growers have got genuine needs.”
The talks, he said, were “unfortunate and frustrating”, and left the growers with no alternative to direct action.
Simplot are currently mulling a revised offer, but the company’s board has not given details of a time frame for their decision, something which “seems like it could be a stalling mechanism,” said Bovill.