Galati and PMC sign peace treaty

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

Spud Shed owner Tony Galati and WA's potato industry regulator have ended a war which raged for almost two decades.

Mr Galati and the Potato Marketing Corporation signed a confidential agreement yesterday which resolved all outstanding issues between them.

The deal clears the way for Mr Galati to plant more potatoes and marks the end of a dispute which he estimates has cost him millions of dollars in legal fees and lost income.

"I never thought I'd see the day," he said. "It is a relief."

Mr Galati had been restricted to growing about 3500 tonnes of potatoes a year in the heavily regulated industry, which is subject to the Marketing of Potatoes Act of 1946.

PMC acting chief executive Peter Evans said the corporation had been in discussion with Mr Galati for some time and was pleased that all issues had been resolved.

Mr Evans said nothing in the agreement contravened the 1946 Act or the Marketing of Potatoes Regulations 1987.

The Galati Group would operate within the regulated system and had committed to accepting PMC compliance protocols on volumes planted, yields, deliveries and sales.

"Ultimately, this agreement is about growing the commercial potential of the WA potato industry to the benefit of consumers, the State and industry," the PMC said in a statement.

The PMC is gearing up for a $1.8 million grower-funded marketing campaign aimed at lifting local annual consumption by 10,000 tonnes to 60,000t over the next three years.

It is believed the agreement clears the way for Mr Galati to increase his planting by about 25 per cent.

Mr Galati's court battles with the PMC have centred on charges of over-planting and selling potatoes outside the regulated system. He settled out of court after a two-year battle in the Federal Court centring on claims the 1946 Act contravened the Trade Practices Act and the Constitution.

Mr Galati said he was satisfied that the PMC had entered a new era that would help the industry in WA to grow.

The increase in his planting capacity would help to stop potatoes coming into WA from interstate.

"The supermarket chains need more potatoes but if we can't supply the volume and quality they want, they have to buy them from interstate," Mr Galati said.

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