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Dairy farmers' carbon tax concerns

HAIDEE VANDENBERGHE and LAUREN CELENZACountryman

The carbon tax could be the final nail in the coffin for many of WA’s dairy farmers who face a possible hit of thousands of dollars per farm under the carbon tax.

Harvey dairy farmer Charlie Marino’s electricity bill has already jumped 40 per cent in the last year and under the carbon tax it’s set to skyrocket.

Many of his neighbouring dairy farmers have already walked away from the industry and Charlie said he might not be able to continue doing what he loved if costs increased.

“I have put more than 40 years of breeding into my cattle to get them to the production levels they are at now. It breaks my heart that I might have to let it all go, ” he said.

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“Who is going to produce milk in 10 years? I won’t be, and young people aren’t going to want to be in an industry that pays nothing.”

Fellow Harvey dairy farmer Graham Manning employs three full-time staff and has been able to increase milk production by one million litres over the past five years.

But the fifth-generation producer only gets about 40 cents a litre for milk, which is less than he was earning three years ago.

“It’s going to be difficult for farmers to continue with increased inputs, ” he said. “We don’t have a mechanism to pass on costs.”

Graham said dairy producers would also be hit by the flow-on effects of higher prices for grain, fertiliser and transport.

“If the Government wants food products to be produced in Australia, then it’s got to look after these industries, ” he said.

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