New tax to harm farm exports
ONE of the peak representative bodies for Northern Rivers canegrowers has criticised the Federal Government’s plan to make big polluters pay for their emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
Canegrowers CEO Steve Greenwood said the carbon tax would make Australia’s sugar exports more expensive, reducing the industry’s competitiveness against other sugar producing countries such as Brazil and Thailand.
While none of the 4,000 sugar producers in Australia will pay the carbon tax directly, Canegrowers argues the increased cost of inputs such as electricity, fertilisers and agricultural chemicals will force the final price of sugar up.
The sugar industry is worth about $2 billion a year.
Canegrowers believes the cost to each of Australia’s 4000 sugar producers as a result of the carbon tax will be about $4000.
Despite the multi-billion dollar annual value of the industry, Mr Greenwood said there would be little ability for producers to absorb the impact of the carbon tax.
However, Mr Greenwood stopped short of saying the carbon tax would definitely result in forcing some farmers to leave the industry.
He said the industry was still waiting for the full effect of Sunday’s announcement by the Government to be explained to them.
“There were a raft of programs announced, but we are awaiting advice from the government as to the implications of these,” he said.
While Canegrowers expects the global demand for food to increase in coming years, Mr Greenwood indicated he was not sure this would offset any relative increase in Australian sugar prices.
Australia is the third largest exporter of sugar globally, with 80% of sugar produced in Australia sent to overseas markets.
Mr Greenwood said Canegrowers were not opposed to the Federal Government taking action in an attempt to prevent the potentially dangerous consequences of climate change, however they were opposed to it taking such steps if the international was unwilling to take similar action at the same time.
Other farming lobby groups, including the National Farmers Federation, have also opposed the Federal Government’s plans to make the largest corporate polluters pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, saying it will reduce exports.