3 November, 2022
Farmers hit by road charge increase
FAR North Queensland’s farming industry could face irreversible damage with the Road User Charge set to increase by 9c per litre as Far North Queensland growers already grapple with high operational costs and low worker numbers.
The Road User Charge is a cost set by the Commonwealth for each litre of diesel used by heavy vehicles on public roads and is changed annually.
As of 29 September, the charge increased by 0.8c to a total of 27.2c per litre but the newest increase is rumoured to be 9c per litre which would push the total charge to near 36c per litre.
President of FNQ Growers Joe Moro said an-other increase in costs for farmers could spell the end for growers already struggling in the north.
“Prices are rising across the board right now, transport is just one of them and this isn’t going to help,” he said.
“A lot of the farmers are either not making money at all, or barely making a profit – they can’t cop another cost increase.
“The growers are beholden to the supermarket giants that set the prices for their product, they don’t have the ground to negotiate as the industry is driven by a supply and demand scenario.
“The Treasurer is saying an there has been an eight per cent increase in food prices, but that doesn’t necessarily get passed on, and if it does get passed on, we have no reason to think it’s enough to help the industry.”
Kennedy MP Bob Katter is calling for immediate action from the Federal Government to overturn the decision to increase the charge and keep the Far North’s farming industry alive.
“Transport companies in my electorate are already warning growers that they are going to have no choice but to pass the cost onto farmers,” he said.
“Farmers already burdened by labour shortages and a recent doubling of freight, fertiliser and packaging costs, will be left with two choices: go bust or get a higher price for their fruit and vegetables.
“Put simply, if the consumer is not willing to pay higher prices for Australian fruit and vegetables – our supermarket fruit and vegetable shelves will be empty.
“Immediate action from the Federal Government to overturn this ridiculous decision is required to support Australian farmers, not crucify them.”
Mr Katter said, 3,000-4,000 farmers were leaving the industry every year and turning to cattle because the costs were killing them in crop farming.
The new User Road Charge increase does not have an official date as of print.