Poppy crops given go-ahead

SE farmers could have a valuable new cropping option after a government bill was passed this week – poppies.

THE Controlled Substances (Opium Cultivation) Amendment Bill successfully passed through Parliament.

Opposition Agriculture spokesperson David Ridgway, who introduced the bill earlier this year, said he was grateful for the support of local farmers, pharmaceutical companies and the government, which supported the bill.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to open up another industry for SA farmers,” he said.

“SA is now on a level playing field with Tasmania, Victoria and the NT where they have been farming opium poppies with a great deal of success.

“At a time when some of our South East farmers are doing it tough, this could be a valuable crop to add to a farmer’s rotation.”

In Tasmania, which currently produces 80 per cent of the world’s legal opium poppies, the production of opiates increased by 124 per cent between 2008 and 2013, which Mr Ridgway says indicates the demand for the crop is continually increasing.

“Opium poppies are used in the production of a wide range of painkillers including morphine, codeine, Nurofen Plus and Panadeine," he said.

"Given the world’s ageing population this demand will only continue to grow.

“That’s why it is important for SA to get into the market now and give our farmers every possible chance to capitalise on this growing demand."

Mr Ridgway said he looked forward to working with PIRSA and the government to ensure the necessary regulations were implemented as soon as possible to give farmers the earliest available opportunity to get the opium poppy industry up and running in SA.