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NFF backs calls to remove renewable energy targets

9 November 2012

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today backed calls to remove renewable energy targets due to the increased pressure on Australian farms from rising energy prices.

“Energy and fuel are among the largest costs for Australian farmers, and a significant consideration in our industry’s long-term competitiveness. The recent spike in electricity prices, combined with the major increase in fuel prices over the last decade, continue to have a significant impact on the agricultural sector,” NFF CEO Matt Linnegar said.

“Irrigation, dairy and grain farmers are among the most affected due to their heavy reliance on electricity, but increased prices are also being felt right across the agricultural industry. As farmers are price takers, we are unable to pass these costs on, which is why it is essential that policies that simply add additional costs back into our businesses are removed.

“The renewable energy targets are one of these. The Productivity Commission has made it very clear that the introduction of the carbon tax means that a significant number of existing Government programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions or improving efficiency, including renewable energy targets, now impose costs while providing little or no benefit.

“The Commission has recommended that this policy be terminated, and we agree, as it will result in the price pressure on electricity used by our farmers being eased,” Mr Linnegar said.

Mr Linnegar’s comments on targets come a day after the Government released its Energy White Paper, which the NFF has welcomed.

“In our submission, we reinforced the importance of affordable fuel and energy to our sector’s competitiveness – particularly given that in just one year, the fuel costs for Australian farmers jumped 12 percent,” Mr Linnegar said.

“The Government’s White Paper has stated the need to provide accessible, reliable, sustainable and competitively priced energy – a key component of NFF’s submission.

“We are particularly supportive of the proposed reforms to the electricity market and regulatory system that incentivises efficiency and the uptake of measures to minimise costs, along with the deregulation of retail markets and their associated pricing structures.

“We’re also a strong supporter of the proposal to streamline environmental regulations that apply across Australian and state government jurisdictions - any move to cut the regulatory burden and remove red tape is a positive move for farmers.

“Energy is shaping up as one of the major challenges facing the farming sector, which is why we have called for, and are today welcoming, sensible policies to meet the future energy needs of Australian farmers,” Mr Linnegar concluded.

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