Imports could ruin me: grower

Brad ThompsonThe West Australian

Swan Valley winemaker John Griffiths believes his livelihood is at risk because of a shock decision to allow imports of Californian table grapes into WA.

The Californian grapes were on sale in WA shops yesterday morning, less than 24 hours after the State Government and the Department of Agriculture and Food WA approved imports despite the local industry's biosecurity fears.

Authorities said the risk from devastating fungal pathogen phomopsis viticola was at an "appropriately low level" based on California's export standards.

The reversal came just weeks after DAFWA said the risk was too high and former agriculture minister Terry Redman told Parliament the fight to protect local growers could go all the way to the World Trade Organisation.

Mr Griffiths, who runs Faber Vineyard, said there was no such thing as an appropriate risk for grape growers like himself.

"I have a mortgage, school fees, staff and a business so for me there is no appropriate risk," he said. "I could lose my livelihood but the bureaucrats and politicians who make decisions have nothing at stake."

The decision will make grapes available in WA in winter when they are out of season for local producers.

Bullfrog International owner Graham Morgan, who imported the first consignment of Californian grapes, said local grape growers were scaremongering about the disease risk.

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths said they would stock imported grapes.

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