The poultry industry will be crippled under the Gillard government’s carbon tax, federal opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said.
Mr Hockey met with the region’s poultry industry workers about their concerns at Nelsons Plains yesterday and said agriculture needed to take a bigger focus within the Labor government.
Mr Hockey said those in the poultry industry were already feeling the increased costs of running their businesses and their ability to retain job security and meet added costs would be compromised when the carbon tax was introduced on July 1.
“The government needs to get rid of the carbon tax because it will add to the cost of production,” he said.
Mr Hockey said farmers must take advantage of opportunities to export their products to extend their market and profits.
“There is an oversupply of food in Australia at the moment, we are producing food for 60 million people,” he said.
“There are 2.5 billion people who are coming into the Asian middle class and those people are wanting protein and a diverse range of fresh foods
“We can get our produce into Asia.”
Mr Hockey said farmers could only be pushed so far in Woolworths and Coles’ domination of the market.
“For so long farmers have been price takers not price makers, I’ve got an interest in a cattle property in north Queensland and I understand farmers don’t make a lot of money,” he said.
“Coles and Woolies can’t completely screw the supplier because they will have nothing on the shelf to sell.
“Farmers can only be squeezed so far.”
Paterson MP Bob Baldwin said it was important for Mr Hockey to understand the impact on farmers so the Coalition could assist.
“It’s not all about driving from the desk in Canberra, these issues are important in our community and our economy and I want Joe to understand these issues,” he said.