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AU: Tasmanian apple growers worried by quarantine fee rise

Fruit growers in Tasmania are worried by a planned increase in quarantine fees, which they say will harm their export potential.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service removed a 40 per cent rebate for agricultural exporters last year.

Now exporters are facing a further fee hike, as changes to quarantine fees take effect in July.

The higher fee comes on top of pressure already being felt from higher production costs and the strength of currency making export trade difficult.

Orchard manager Wade Miller says the higher fees are adding to the spiralling costs facing growers.

"I have to work so hard to get the costs of production down, which also means being efficient in the way you run your operation, and to be hit by depressing prices and other things like carbon taxes, we've got another wage rise, it just makes it pretty hard to sum it all up," he said.

Lucy Gregg from Fruit Growers Tasmania says the removal of the rebate has hit farmers hard.

She says the rising costs are forcing some growers to scale back their exports and concentrate on domestic markets.

"We are expecting a significant increase in charges."

"These fees now make exporting fruit a lot more expensive and therefore it's very hard to maintain our competitiveness in these international markets, particularly against countries such as Chile and New Zealand which have far lesser inspection fees," she said.

The quarantine service, however, says that the fee increases are necessary for it to recover the cost of inspections.

Source: au.news.yahoo.com

Publication date: 4/10/2012


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