Tall poppies retire

TASMANIAN poppy growers will have a new crop of faces at the top of their peak body with a changing of the guard in the leadership of Poppy Growers Tasmania.

At the AGM at Ulverstone this week, president Phillip Loane came to the end of his six-year term. The Latrobe-based farmer will remain within the committee as the representative for Sassafras, East Devonport, Moriarty and Sheffield growers.

New president is Sisters Creek grower Michael Nichols was has previously served as vice-president. Mr Nichols will also remain as representative for Circular Head growers. “Phillip has been great for us over the past six years and now it’s a changing of the guard, hopefully nothing much should change,” Mr Nichols said. Mr Nichols, who has been involved with the committee for at least the past five years, after growing for some 15 years, said they are braced for any difficulties ahead in the industry. “It’s certainly going to be a challenging season ahead, but we’ll see where the market, growing areas and prices go in the coming months.”

Phillipa (Pip) Webster, of Woodbury, will bring a significant amount of experience to the vice-president position, having worked within all three of Tasmania’s poppy processing companies over her time in the industry.

PGT chief executive Keith Rice said while the season itself had been difficult, and more difficulties were expected, the fundamental support that the poppy industry had received in recent times was encouraging, especially in the face of criticisms against opioid use, particularly from the US. “We’re seeing global healthcare organisations for cancer, for palliative care, who are coming forward and saying we need the products,” Mr Rice said.

“We’ve seen the head of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs coming out and saying it’s indispensable to patients, our product is of the gold standard and we’re always in need of more. “It gives you the confidence, you know what we’re doing and what we’re producing is for good, it’s more highly regulated than every other country so it makes you realise we’re doing it for the right reasons, despite what you see in the news.”