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Fuelling the farm: uncertainty on tax for agricultural fuel

5 July 2011

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today reiterated the major concern by farmers over the future taxation of fuel used by agriculture and the supply chain.

NFF President Jock Laurie says that rather than provide assurances to farmers, the Government’s announcement that fuel for families, retirees and small businesses will be exempt from the carbon tax has only served to escalate anxiety among those in agriculture.

“Fuel is a major input cost for farmers, rural businesses and the rural supply chain, and we are extremely concerned about the treatment of agricultural fuel under the proposed carbon tax,” Mr Laurie said.

“We are yet to see any clarification from the Government that the fuel used in agriculture and by related industries such as freight transport companies will be excluded from the tax.

“This is of critical importance to our industry, as our businesses are dependent on fuel for everything from driving tractors to plant crops, to using diesel engines to pump water and generate electricity, to trucking our stock to and from market. At what point does the tax stop being a tax on carbon and start being a tax on food and fibre production?” Mr Laurie said.

Mr Laurie stated that the NFF is also concerned with the Government’s parallel announcement that the Productivity Commission will be charged with investigating Australia’s current fuel excise system.

“Even if we discover that agricultural fuel is excluded from the carbon tax when the Government makes its announcement on Sunday, we are adamant that the current excise system as it relates to agricultural fuel usage is maintained,” Mr Laurie said.

“At the moment, farmers aren’t required to pay excise on the off-road component of our fuel, which is only fair considering that this vehicle use has no impact on the public road infrastructure.

“Including agricultural fuel in the carbon tax or removing this rebate for farmers adds up to the same thing: an unfair and unmanageable cost for Australian farmers that will erode our competitiveness and deplete our export income,” Mr Laurie said.

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