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14 January 2015

WA: Spitting chips over Tony Galati's 200-tonne potato giveaway

Fined for Spud givaway

Free potato protest

Tony Galati is giving away 200 tonnes of free potatoes in a protest against Western Australia's hardline potato laws.

The head of one of Western Australia's best known fruit and vegetable farming families could be risking fines for giving away 200 tonnes of potatoes.

The Spud Shed owner Tony Galati is planning the massive giveaway to kick off on midnight Wednesday and continuing throughout Thursday.

The move has not only angered other growers, the WA Potato Marketing Corporation, which regulates the industry, could come down again on Mr Galati for over-planting.

Mr Galati has remained defiant, saying there is no need for the growing and selling of potatoes to be regulated.

"They've got this system that they should've got rid of years ago but it's still there," Mr Galati said.

He said that, as a producer, he receives no benefit out of regulation and "nor does the consumer," adding that the cost of potatoes in WA was "an artificial price".

"When there's a surplus instead of dropping the price and giving the consumers a better deal, they keep the price up and they dump the spuds to the cattle, I believe that's wrong, it's food, we shouldn't waste food," he said.

Mr Galati questioned the need for a potato board when there is no representation for other vegetables such as broccoli or carrot.

The WA Potato Marketing Corporation sets the price that growers receive for potatoes, decides who can grow potatoes, how many can be planted and what varieties.

Potato Growers Association WA president Jim Turley said that Mr Galati's actions and comments were "extremely disappointing".

He labelled the move a "promotion" for Mr Galati's businesses which comes "at a huge expense to the average family potato growers in WA".

Mr Turley said giving away potatoes made it hard for small growers.

He said the current regulated system allowed a price to be arrived at "that's proved to be the second lowest or lowest price in Australia over the last 10 years"