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Carbon tax must not compromise food and fibre production, say farmers

22 March 2011

Despite the commitment to excluding agriculture’s direct emissions from its carbon tax, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) continues to be extremely concerned about the Government’s emerging carbon policy plans.

“It is sometimes misconstrued that because agriculture’s direct emissions are excluded from the Government’s carbon pricing plans, the sector will be unaffected,” NFF President Jock Laurie said. “This could not be further from the truth, even with a Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) offset scheme in place.

“Up to 45% of farmers’ inputs are energy or energy dependent – all costs that will increase under the Government’s plans.

“One thing that Professor Garnaut did get right in his Climate Change Review Update is that agriculture’s trade exposure is more acute than most other sectors of the national economy. The risks of increased costs from indirect emissions sources are therefore real for farmers and could jeopardise Australian food production at a time when the world’s ability to meet its increasing needs is running thin.

“The NFF is looking for firm, up front assurances that the indirect cost impact of any carbon tax, particularly those deriving from fuel and food processing, will not impinge on farmers’ competitiveness on the international markets on which they depend.

“We are an industry that has spent more than thirty years successfully removing costs from our farm businesses in order to stay ahead of declining terms of trade for food and fibre. These efforts cannot be compromised by any mechanism that will put the livelihoods of Australia’s 140,000 farmers at risk.

“Is that really what those Australian people want when they talk about taking action against climate change? I doubt it.”

[ENDS]

Media Contact: Matthew Linnegar on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250

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