The December closure of a South Australian McCain Foods processing plant is another nail in the coffin for the potato industry, according to vegetable growers.

Farmers already have faced rising costs and cheaply produced imports from overseas, says AUSVEG, the national body representing Australia's 2000 potato growers.

Public affairs manager William Churchill says the 59 employees at McCain's Penola plant only heard of their fate via the radio on Tuesday afternoon.

The frozen food maker announced it would close the plant by December, due to increasing numbers of cheap imported potatoes and the rising costs of manufacturing in Australia.

Redundancy packages are to be offered to the plant's 59 permanent employees.

"McCain shouldn't have waited until now to tell growers who have already sown their seed for the season," Mr Churchill said.

He also questioned how McCain will look after the growers who supply the plant if their contracts are cut.

He hoped those potatoes would now be sent to the McCain facility in Ballarat, but this would create additional transport costs for growers.

"We would like to see McCain outline packages to assist affected growers in both the short and long term, including logistical support to see these potatoes processed at other McCain facilities," he said.

 

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