Costa Mushrooms, Australia’s largest mushroom grower, has again called for the scrapping of a key industry levy. A full page advertisement in this week's The Land newspaper made a case to "stop the mushroom levy from destroying our industry" and encouraged growers to "vote to abolish the mushroom spawn levy".
Under the Department of Agriculture Levy Guidelines, Costa Mushrooms can use its right as a levy payer to call for a vote on the Agaricus Mushroom Statutory Levy. Costa claims that since the mushroom levy was doubled in 2014, $18 million of growers' money has been wasted on ineffective marketing and administration.
"This is the most of any fresh produce category, yet there has been little to no growth in household consumption of mushrooms," the advertisement said. "While other categories which do not have a compulsory levy, such as blueberries and tomatoes, have achieved significant growth, the mushroom industry has spent more but received the least return to levy payers."
But the Australian Mushroom Growers' Association (AMGA) has hit back, saying it "strongly believes removing the statutory levy is not the answer". It has encouraged all levy payers to have their say and participate in the voluntary postal vote in November.
A document on the AMGA website details the reasons for maintaining the statutory levy, including the continuation of a world class research and development program, and acting as a mechanism to prevent large growers from opting-out and benefiting from the marketing and promotion investment of others. According to the document, the levy investment has helped the industry to grow production by 20 per cent over the past decade.