Poppy industry

Becoming a poppy grower

Becoming a poppy grower

Step 1: Contact the manufacturing companies

If you wish to grow poppies, contact one of the 3 manufacturing companies in Tasmania.

These companies employ field officers who manage the poppy crops, including sowing, spraying and harvesting. They can provide detailed information on cultivation, security, and any company-specific requirements they have.

For other guidance on poppy growing and whether it is a suitable crop for you, you can also go to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment website  and search for poppy growing.

Step 2: Get a contract

You must then get a contract with one of these companies to grow the crop for them. As part of this process, you may submit a detailed plan of your cultivation site.

Contracts are issued annually.

Step 3: Get a licence

Once you have a company contract and security clearance, the company's field officer will help with your licence. They will also get you to apply for a police check, covering any court convictions (particularly drug-related matters). This is required for all new growers, with follow-up checks required every 5 years.

Licences are currently issued annually.  This may change through the Review of the Tasmanian Poppy Industry Regulations.

Relevant laws

Poisons Act 1971

Security practices

Security practices

Fencing requirements

The perimeters of the paddocks or properties where you grow your poppy crop must be entirely fenced in accordance with the Boundary Fences Act 1908.

The minimum roadside fencing requirements (including for farm laneways or tracks the public has access to) are:

  • minimum 5 wire fence, top one to be barbed wire; or
  • 4 plain wires, top wire to be electrified;
  • properly-fitted gates and panels, with panels of 7 wires or ring-lock.

Fence posts must be reasonably spaced. Split posts or star steel posts with wires must be correctly tensioned.

Warning notices

You are to place warning notices on the fences of all roadside crops throughout the season.

These notices advise:

  • the area is prohibited
  • trespassers will be prosecuted
  • illegal use of the crop may cause death.

Restricted access

Access to poppy fields is restricted to:

  • licence holders and their workers
  • company field officers
  • contracted workers during sowing and harvesting times.

Anyone else who needs to enter poppy fields (for example, to do soil testing or repair equipment or infrastructure):

  • must get permission from the licence holder and the property owner
  • should advice the Poppy Advisory and Control Board.

Checks and patrols

Field officers of the Poppy Advisory and Control Board regularly patrol crops and liaise with Tasmania Police.

Cleaning up after harvest

Within 7 days after harvesting the crop, you must make sure any poppy material remaining on the land where the crop was grown is destroyed. This includes burning, slashing or cultivating it.

This is done to destroy any potential poppy regrowth.

Failure to do so could jeopardise the renewal of your licence.

Livestock

It is recommended that livestock do not graze poppy stubble. If it is, then livestock must be kept off the stubble for at least 3 weeks before slaughter.

Horse racing industry

If you grow cereals for sale to the horse racing industry, please make sure the cereal crop is not contaminated by regrowth poppies. The best way to do this is to knock out regrowth at an early stage.

This is not only good hygiene; it is also a condition of your licence that you eliminate poppy regrowth.

Dangers of poppies

Dangers of poppies

Health consequences

Crude poppy material at any dose is highly poisonous. The alkaloids are extremely toxic and can cause convulsions, asphyxiation and death.

Using any part of the poppy, in any way, is life-threatening; people in Tasmania have died from doing this.

For more information, see the Not your average poppy website

Trespassing

Trespassing on poppy fields, taking and possessing poppies and poppy materials is illegal. There are substantial penalties (fines and/or imprisonment) for these.

If you see any unusual or suspicious behaviour near poppy crops, please report it to Tasmania Police.

Roadside or wild poppies

If you see roadside regrowth of poppies on country roads or highways, please report it to WorkSafe Tasmania.

Phone: 1300 366 322
Email: wstinfo@justice.tas.gov.au

Roadside regrowth can affect Tasmania's reputation within the international poppy industry.

The Tasmanian Industry

The Tasmanian industry

World importance

Tasmania supplies almost half of the world's medicinal opiate market and is considered the world's most efficient producer of poppies.

See Chapter 7 of the Department of Justice Annual Report 2013-2014 for further information.

Poppy Use

Papaver Somniferum is the species grown by the Tasmanian poppy industry.

The poppies are grown for

  • morphine, codeine and thebaine (collectively known as alkaloids).

These are extracted from the poppy straw (all parts of the poppy except the seeds) and used in pain-relief drugs and cough medicines.

Poppy seeds are a by-product that

  • have no narcotic content and
  • are sold for cooking.

Review of the Tasmanian Poppy Industry Regulations

Review of the Tasmanian Poppy Industry Regulations

About the review

The 2013 Review of the Tasmanian Poppy Industry Regulation Report was released on 6 January 2014.

The Report was commissioned by the Attorney General and prepared by John Ramsay and Associates.

Purpose

The purpose of the review was to ensure the industry's regulation is the most effective and efficient it can be, and that it supports future industry growth.

2013 Review of the Tasmanian Poppy Industry Regulation Report (DOC, 571 KB, 79 pages)

Poppy Advisory and Control Board

Poppy Advisory and Control Board

Functions

The Poppy Advisory and Control Board's role is to:

  • process applications for licences and advise the Minister for Health on those applications
  • advise on matters relating to the cultivation, production and transport of poppies and poppy material
  • collect and collate statistical information and prepare reports
  • liaise with the Australian Government to fulfil Australia's obligations under the International Drug Conventions (including the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs)
  • oversee security matters for Tasmanian crops.

Current membership

Mr Michael Stevens, Chair

Jim Galloway, representing the Secretary of the Department responsible for the Public Health Act 1997

Detective Inspector Jason Elmer, representing the Commissioner of Police

Dr Lloyd Klumpp, representing the Secretary of the Department responsible for the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Tasmania) Act 1994.

The Board is supported by WorkSafe Tasmania staff.

Annual report

This is included in Chapter 7 of the Department of Justice Annual Report 2013-14 (PDF, 163 KB, 9 pages).

Relevant legislation

Poisons Act 1971