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Tasmania is in danger of missing the growth in global demand for food due to the pressures on exports as a result of high freight costs, a strong dollar and compliance with government regulations, according to The Mercury.

Australian farmers are asking politicians to help lift the burdens of red tape and increased freight costs.

“Otherwise, we will not be able to compete and we are out of here and further jobs will be lost,” Huon Valley farmer Andrew Smith said.

Tasmanian producers are struggling despite the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences reporting last week on the growth in global food demand.

The latest cost burden to hit Tasmanian producers is the move by Port of Melbourne to impose a licence fee. Infrastructure Minister David O’Byrne has talked to the Victorian Government on the licence fee.

Smith, who has an apple and cherry orchard at Grove, said the fight is on to compete with global imports.

“A container of apples can be landed into Sydney from overseas cheaper than from here because they are on international shipping rates,” he said.

“Ultimately, the agricultural sector is drowning under inefficient layers of bureaucracy.”

Smith said increased compliance with regulations was reflected in extra cost to the producer.

He urged politicians to listen and act for all small businesses in Tasmania.

“Bass Strait is supposed to be treated like a highway,” he said.

“Freight equalisation must be reviewed and increased so we can compete with international and other domestic producers.”

— Full story at The Mercury

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