SE potato growers in negotiations about Safries

POTATO farmers have been negotiating with McCain Foods regarding a takeover of the Safries processing plant near Penola.

McCain Foods, represented by Australasian president Louis Wolthers, and SE potato growers are negotiating a deal for locals to take over the now disused Safries processing plant near Penola.

McCain Foods, represented by Australasian president Louis Wolthers, and SE potato growers are negotiating a deal for locals to take over the now disused Safries processing plant near Penola.

Until now farmers had been transporting their harvested potatoes to McCain's Ballarat plant 300km away, with the company footing the bill, after the Penola plant closed late last year.

McCain Foods can't take all the farmers' potatoes at once so the farmers are looking to take control of the Penola plant to use it for storage.

State Agriculture Minister Leon Bignell said the negotations are between the company and the farmers but the government may lend a hand once the deal is done.

"The local potato growers are dealing with McCains, we're not involved in those discussions at all," Mr Bignell said.

"But the local growers might need a bit of a hand and they might need a grant to help them along."

About 60 people lost their jobs when the Safries plant, near Penola, was closed late last year.

The company cited rising costs of labour and electricity and the imports of cheaper processed potatoes as reasons for the decision.

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