National Farmers' Federation

National Day of Action as farmers stand against Biosecurity Protection Levy

Today Australian agriculture will band together to take a stand against the Biosecurity Protection Levy, calling on the Federal Government to #ScraptheTax and #KeepFarmersFarming.

On this National Day of Action, the National Farmers’ Federation and its members, comprising all of Australia’s major agricultural commodities across the supply chain, will send a message to politicians and the public about why this tax is unfair and must be binned.

NFF President David Jochinke said rarely did an issue warrant such a stand but farmers were fed up with the Government’s dogged pursuit of implementing the levy, despite strong opposition from industry and independent experts.

“We vehemently oppose this policy as it is rotten to its core,” Mr Jochinke said.

“This policy is less popular than a picnic on a fire ant nest. The fact the government is persisting just shows contempt for farmers and proper policy.

“On behalf of our members, nearly all of Australia’s 85,000 producers and the thousands of individuals and businesses in the supply chain, we are telling this Government to scrap the tax.

“We are less than two months away from this proposed levy being implemented, yetwe still have no idea how the levy will be collected and managed. What a shambles.”

The Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee Senate Inquiry into the levy is expected to hand down its report on Friday, ahead of Budget Week when the NFF expects the bill to be voted on in the Senate.

“The Coalition, Greens and independents have already shown their support for farmers, voting against the levy in the lower house. We call on them to continue to back Aussie farmers and do the same in the Senate,” Mr Jochinke said.

“We support efforts to strengthen and better fund Australia’s biosecurity system, but this tax is not the way.

“The NFF has long-called for the risk creators who bring the pests and diseases to our shores to contribute more to our system, rather than punishing farmers who are left to deal with incursions at great cost to their farm businesses.

“This call has been backed by review after review and it’s time the Government looked seriously at getting this right, not just for food and fibre production, but for all Australians.

“Today agriculture stands united to urge the Senate to #ScraptheTax and #KeepFarmersFarming.”

Why we are against the levy

  • Farmers already contribute billions towards biosecurity through existing levies, on-farm pest and disease management, traceability systems, and state and regional landholder agencies.
  • This levy doesn’t follow the usual rules for existing industry levies (that also contribute to Australia’s biosecurity system).
  • It doesn’t align with the National Biosecurity Strategy, a strategy agreed on by Federal, state and territory governments.
  • Farmers and agricultural businesses haven’t been told how the Levy will be collected and managed.
  • Collected funds will not go directly to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, which is responsible for Australia’s biosecurity, instead they will be go into government coffers.
  • Independent experts including the Australian National University, Productivity Commission and Office of Impact Analysis have expressed concerns, saying the levy is inefficient and at odds with standard tax practice.

For more background on the Biosecurity Protection Levy, view the NFF’s explainer here.

Images of David Jochinke here.