Calls for another levy on farmers to be scrapped

09 May 2024

Tasmania's peak body for farmers, TasFarmers, is preparing to challenge the Federal Government's biosecurity levy on farmers, planning to push back against the levy in Canberra next week.

TasFarmers President Ian Sauer said TasFarmers is standing in solidarity with the National Farmers Federation (NFF) calling on the levy to be scrapped, saying that the levy unfairly subsidises the import business model for foreign goods.

Mr Sauer criticised the government's ongoing attack on farmers, stating, "It's disgraceful that the government suggests Aussie farmers pay a tax to fund biosecurity measures when they're not the cause.

"Farmers are not responsible for importing goods manufactured in foreign countries, which inturn increases the risk to our natural environment. Yet, they expect us to foot the bill, when we're not the ones causing the problem.

"If we were to face a biosecurity incursion, it would be the farmers who have to clean it up. Ultimately, we'd be the ones bearing the financial burden to fix the problem. We argue that the importers should be the ones funding the biosecurity measures, not the farmers," said Mr Sauer.

Read more: Call to Action: Tasmanian GBEs urged to commit to the ‘Farm Access Code’

TasFarmers believes there is a practical solution: if the levy persists, a portion should finance biosecurity officers within farming organisations nationwide to assist farmers in managing the associated biosecurity risk.

"If Canberra politicians are going to do this damn silly thing, we say don't do it in this damn silly way. If we can't scrap the tax, we want a portion of the levy to fund biosecurity officers in farming organisations across Australia.

"If someone is bringing in exotic plants or seafood, doesn't matter what, and a pathogen gets in, we aren't the ones asking for this stuff. However, we will bear the brunt of the economic, social, and environmental impacts once the pathogen spreads.

"It's just a tax, another tax on the productive side of the ledge, the real kicker is we don't know how it's going to be collected, where the money is going to go or how it's to be spent.

"If farmers are to endure yet another tax, we demand that they receive some benefits in return. This includes the deployment of biosecurity officers who can effectively address emerging challenges", he said.