50 Australian agricultural producer representative groups have unified to send a powerful, collective message to the Federal Government about their strong opposition to the proposed 10 per cent biosecurity tax.
These groups represent the views of tens of thousands of Australian agricultural producers across the full spectrum of farm commodities including grains, livestock, horticulture, dairy, forestry, seafood, etc.
A joint letter sent to the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, is calling for an immediate and urgent reversal of the fundamentally flawed tax on producers that’s due to be implemented by 1 July 2024.
Grain Producers Australia has also co-signed the letter – which includes Federal Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, and Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt – in backing action to address major policy flaws and inequities.
“Australian producers take biosecurity seriously on our farms every single day,” GPA Chair Barry Large said.
“That’s why we already pay significant amounts to fund biosecurity protections directly within our own businesses.
We also pay directly through other compulsory industry levies that raise hundreds of millions of dollars – including biosecurity levies.
“We’ve been calling for increased funding and protections to make the system better and fairer for producers with increased accountability and shared responsibility, but this proposal in its current form is grossly unfair and fundamentally flawed and needs to be reversed.”
The letter says the principles of this policy proposal do not accord with the recent Productivity Commission report into levies, which assesses the policy against well-understood criteria. The independent Productivity Commission analysis also supports industry’s view that this is a tax. It is proposed to be non-hypothecated and carries multiple risks and consequences for producers.
WoolProducers Australia CEO, Jo Hall, said producers, processors and exporters all along the agriculture, food and fibre supply chains are strongly opposed to this proposed tax being introduced.
She said recent commentary about cost-of-living pressures and pricing transparency had highlighted the fact farmers are also doing it tough, whilst the seasonal pressures are relentless.
“Farmers are facing ever increasing pressures to produce food that’s affordable, and the highest quality in the world, whilst others rake-in record profits,” she said.
“This move by the Federal Government will only amplify these production pressures by hitting farmers with another tax that’s nothing more than double dipping and cost-shifting on biosecurity.”
Summer Fruit Australia CEO, Trevor Ranford, said primarily the new tax unfairly punishes those already doing the right thing (ie levy-paying producers are being forced to pay more taxes), whilst others continue to avoid making any contribution to biosecurity costs and shared responsibilities.
He said producer representatives are subsequently calling for an immediate reversal of the government’s flawed, ‘one-size-fits-all’ tax proposal, to prevent these unintended consequences.
“This decision would help start the process of repairing the damage that’s already been inflicted on trust and confidence in the existing levy system, and key partnerships with producers,” he said.
“It will also allow a more considered approach to accommodate levy payers’ concerns.”
The joint letter urges Treasury to conduct proper, detailed economic analysis and modelling of the policy proposal including providing the actual criteria used to label agricultural producers the only ‘beneficiaries’ of the biosecurity system and not others who also benefit from strong biosecurity and food security.
Individual producers and others are urged to write to their local MPs and the Minister, to reinforce their clear opposition to the proposal, and calls for its immediate reversal. Access the campaign page HERE
Contributions can also be made to a fighting fund to help strengthen the voice of producers with vital campaign resources, with the proposed legislation set to be debated and voted-on, in Federal Parliament.