National Farmers' Federation

Biofuel Review: It's Time to Look to New Horizons

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed indications by the Australian Government that it will further explore alternative energy options – including biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel – to alleviate the impact of high oil prices on Australian businesses and the broader community.
At a time when sustained high fuel prices are having serious impacts on all Australians, particularly small businesses, the time to look to new opportunities and seriously develop renewable energies as viable alternatives to fossil fuels, is now.
“Clearly, the call for alternate energy sources is in the context of current fuel prices biting particularly hard,” NFF President Peter Corish said. “However, as a nation, we should seize upon the opportunities the prevailing circumstances provide in developing more sustainable options for the future.
“We should be seeing these issues as more than just cost driven, in an attempt to dampen rising prices, but as an opportunity for Australia to ‘get in on the ground floor’ of what is an emerging and potentially vital new industry.
“In practical terms, NFF members have advised us that fuel prices in rural and regional Australia have risen by up to 70% over 2004-2006, while the price of fertiliser (which is petroleum-based) has also risen by up to 36% over the same period.
“Considering diesel fuel and fertiliser are major input costs for farmers, record high fuel prices are placing farm businesses across Australia under serious strain.
“The cost of getting produce from the farm gate to consumers is also hurting farmers, with transport and freight prices soaring by as much as 20% over the past two years.
“These are real concerns. Equally significant, the potential for renewable energies, through biofuels, to deliver cost savings along with environmentally-friendly fuel options and the development of a new industry to support it, represents a triple bottom line gain that we, as a society, should actively pursue.
“Further, it should be noted that many biofuel facilities, particularly in the production of ethanol, would emerge in rural and regional areas. The potential for reinvigorating many parts of country Australia, on the back of this new technology, cannot be overstated.
“The NFF strongly supports policies to boost the consumption and production of biofuels in Australia and we are keen to engage with the Government regarding further options for biofuels.
“The NFF believes Australia needs a long-term strategy to support and create demand for biofuels. In that regard, we look forward to discussions on future policy initiatives with the Australian Government to drive these important issues forward.”

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