Farming and forestry given reprieve

REGIONAL and rural Australians have been assured by the Federal Government the sector would not be worse off under the carbon tax.

Agricultural and land sectors have been spared the carbon price impost and instead have been given significant assistance toward the food processing industry in an attempt to ease the pressure of the new tax.

The Federal Government on Monday said the farming, forestry and land sectors have an important role to play in reducing carbon pollution.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said the government understood the vital role of rural Australia.

“That is why we will support industries like steel, food processing and the broader manufacturing sector,” he said.

“Carbon pricing is a reform we need to make to keep our economy competitive, to protect our environment and to do the right thing for our children and future generations.”

But the Queensland Farmers Federation said the state’s intensive farming systems were highly exposed to the increased costs which will emerge from the carbon tax.

The representative body said farmers would find it more difficult to run a profitable venture in Queensland, regardless of what commodity was produced.

But the Gillard Government said a grants pool of $150m would be delivered to farmers and open up some new economic opportunities for farmers to gain extra sources of income through the Carbon Farming Initiative.

A 15% refundable tax offset for conservation tillage equipment for three years would also be implemented under the carbon tax scheme, with a view of improving soil carbon, water retention and productivity.

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