Carbon tax will hurt horticulture: VFF

THE introduction of a $23 per tonne carbon tax has the potential to severely affect the horticulture industry, with some growers likely to face cost increases of more than $100,000 per annum.

Sue Finger, VFF Horticulture Group President, said even though agriculture won’t be included under the carbon tax in its initial form, growers will still be stung by rising gas and electricity costs.

“Fruit and vegetable growers must use electricity and gas to operate their packing sheds and coolstores. There will be a significant increase in input costs as soon as the tax is introduced.

“Quality assurance programs mean product must be stored at particular temperatures, must be packed to certain standards, and above all, must be fresh when sold to consumers.

“These requirements can only be met with high energy use, and there’s currently very little scope to reduce this. The carbon tax will mean a straight increase on input costs for growers,” Mrs Finger said.

Indicative modelling suggests a $23 per tonne carbon tax will add 10 per cent to electricity costs and nine per cent to gas prices.

“We recently surveyed our members and some of the larger growers will face increases of more than $100,000 per annum, while smaller growers still face increases of over $10,000 per annum.”

Mrs Finger said that she was concerned that the costs could also be passed onto the consumers.

“We all know that food security depends on profitable farms.

“Every additional dollar we lose with this tax is one less dollar farmers can use to reinvest in productivity improvements. This isn’t good enough for an industry that produces $1.7 billion of fresh produce each year and supplies Australians with quality fruit and vegetables,” Mrs Finger said.

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