Australian grain producers have vehemently rejected the Federal Government’s proposed new 10 per cent Biosecurity Protection Levy.
Grain Producers Australia initiated a short survey to gauge grower sentiment, after the levy was revealed in last month’s budget, as part of a planned ‘sustainable’ biosecurity funding model.
About 140 responded to the GPA survey, with 84 per cent (116) saying they didn’t agree with paying the new 10pc levy, while only 4pc (5) said they would and 13pc (18) wanted more details.
A whopping 94pc (129) said Australian grain producers already contribute enough in their existing levies (1.02pc of net grain sales) to co-fund biosecurity programs and responses, through the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Plant Health Australia.
Another 98.6pc (137) said growers should not have to pay this new 10pc levy, when the biosecurity risk-creators (importers) aren’t paying any levies yet, such as the one proposed for sea containers – as announced by the Federal Government, to try to achieve a sustainable funding model.
Asked whether options for current levy-spending and investments in grains-related programs should be explored first, to strengthen biosecurity preventions, before the 10pc levy is introduced, 95pc of respondents (132) agreed, whilst only two said ‘No’ and five wanted to see more detail.
GPA Chair and WA grain producer, Barry Large, said the survey results were overwhelming and showed Australian grain producers are clearly annoyed and unimpressed by the proposed new levy.
Mr Large said he urged Federal Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, to reconsider the government’s approach, and collaborate with GPA to find more workable solutions for the grains sector; especially given grain producers will be paying the most in levies, due to this policy decision.
“These survey results leave no doubt at all – growers are extremely angry and irritated about the Federal Government’s plans to hit them with a new 10pc levy,” he said.
“With this additional 10pc payment, the total levies collected from Australian grain producers, based on last year’s $28 billion crop, will be $314.16 million.
“This added $28.56m in levies from grains also represents more than 60pc of the $47.5m that’s set to be raised by the new 10pc levy across all producers, as part of a ‘sustainable’ funding model.
“However, this new levy on growers will be re-directed to the Department, which also received a $127 million allocation in the budget, from consolidated revenue, to cover recent financial losses.
“GPA’s survey results clearly showed growers are extremely concerned about this approach.
“Meanwhile, the levy on imported sea containers – which GPA has been calling for to ensure the risk-creators, who are introducing increasing biosecurity threats such as Khapra beetle, can pay their fair share – has not been implemented.
“Without details and a clear value proposition to spend funds raised by this levy, we don’t know if it’ll actually provide better protections, to safeguard against huge risks such as Khapra beetle which would be a $15.5 billion hit for growers, industry, rural communities and the national economy.”
GPA Chief Executive, Colin Bettles, said when asked to provide their comments about the new 10pc levy, survey respondents also expressed strong language in roundly rejecting the proposal, while putting forward other options and priorities.
“Growers clearly feel they’re already paying enough in levies and want other options and existing levy mechanisms explored first, before another new levy is placed on them,” he said.
“Growers also find it insulting that they’re being asked to pay more in levies when the risk-creators are not paying their fair share and the importers of these biosecurity risks also don’t carry the burden of an actual biosecurity incursion and the significant business costs that go with it.
“Growers also have serious concerns about the precedent of more funds being levied-off them to go to the financially troubled Federal Agriculture Department, which tax-payers already fund.
“Nobody disagrees with the fact biosecurity prevention is more cost-effective than eradication.
“We just need to design a way forward that’s inclusive and collaborative for growers – starting with a genuine conversation about how to use existing levies better, to deliver better results.”
Pic: GPA Chair, Barry Large.
It’s a disgrace we pay more when the risk creators are not paying their share.
Without a cost benefit analysis and without any consultation or a strategy this is just a money grab. More information and alternatives are required.
This proposed levy is so wrong! For agriculture to be paying to keep a federal government department financially viable when we already contribute through our taxes. And to load up the grains industry with 60% of the expected tax is just a further insult.
Tax the Importers before introducing a new tax on grain growers. Stop flogging the farmers who take all the risks and already pay levies. Fuel, chemical and fertiliser costs have risen sharply since covid. No more expenses can be tolerated.
Very concerning that the levy funds will be put into general revenue. Funds raised by levies for a specific purpose should only ever be used for that purpose!
Farmers are sick and tired of having to pick up the bill for everything. Enough is enough.
Tax the importers, not the exporters! Federal Government has seriously got the bull by the horns with this one!
Grain growers already contribute approx. $200 million annually to the GRDC as a statutory levy. I would suggest a portion of this money be redirected towards biosecurity.
To be an actual levy we should have oversight as to how it is spent, including the ability to review expenditure retrospectively. Without that it is actually a production tax. I support opposition to it.
Everyone that profits from the grains industry of Australia, should pay the levy, not just the primary producers. It should also be the secondary/processors and related industries. It’s too easy to always tax the growers. It shouldn't be the grain producers that pay all the levies.
Just another money grab by Government. The money will be spent elsewhere. Enough levies now!
I feel as a grain grower I already contribute enough and have serious doubts as to what value the industry would gain from an extra levy.
It is just another money grab on farmers who are seen as a soft touch. It never stops, we can't pass any of these costs on.