Assurance sought on poppies

THE state's peak farming body wants assurance from the government that new national poppy growing regimes do not disadvantage Tasmanian growers.

The federal government has decided to open up poppy cultivation in other states subject to agreement between the states and the Commonwealth over a five-year controlled implementation program.

The state opposition has slammed the decision, saying open slather poppy growing would be a "disaster" for the state's industry.

But Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said yesterday it was a "positive response" to the government's concerns.

"We were very concerned about the dangers of an uncontrolled proliferation of poppies across Australia," Mr Rockliff said.

"This would have posed serious security, health and safety issues, and irreparably damaged the international market's confidence in the industry in Australia, as well as in Tasmania," he said.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Jan Davis said her preferred position would be poppy production remaining quarantined in Tasmania.

"However, we do understand the processors' requirement for additional crops elsewhere should we suffer incidental climate or other problems here," Ms Davis said.

Ms Davis said Australia could not afford to "throw the baby out with the bath water".

"We need to be sure that the regulations governing any interstate production do not compromise our hard-won reputation," she said.

Labor primary industries spokesman David Llewellyn said the state government's response to the federal decision was a "betrayal of the poppy industry".

"Mr Rockliff knows all too well the serious threat this poses to our poppy industry and his weak response is cold comfort to Tasmanian farmers," Mr Llewellyn said.

"How can Mr Rockliff claim, as he did in Parliament today, that a five-year implementation strategy to grow poppies anywhere in Australia is a 'good outcome' for Tasmania?" he said.

"The Liberal Coalition's decision to allow open slather on growing poppies will be a disaster for Tasmania's primary industries sector," he said.

Poppies are worth $100 million annually to the state's economy.


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