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Carbon Tax Major Concern For Growers

Carbon Tax Major Concern For Growers

The proposed carbon tax on greenhouse emissions is causing grave concern amongst New Zealand growers and could see some small businesses go under, says the President of Vegfed, Brian Gargiulo.

Fruit and vegetable growers who use coal or gas to heat their glass houses face massive bills if a proposed carbon tax goes ahead, and Brian Gargiulo, whose organisation represents New Zealand vegetable growers, says it's just another example of the Government loading more costs onto small businesses that cannot afford it.

Speaking at the horticulture industries' Produce Plus Conference in Auckland today (Wednesday 30th July), Brian Gargiulo says of the 281,000 businesses in New Zealand, 241,000 employ five or less people, and the majority of the 3,000 growers he represents fit into this category.

"Small businesses are the backbone of the New Zealand economy and fresh produce is a key contributor to our economic success," he says.

"Each year our industry plants a seed that generates $1.5 billion in local and export sales, and yet the Government continues to load us with more and more costs."

Mr Gargiulo says the proposed carbon tax will see his 3-hectare tomato growing operation forking out $150,000 in carbon tax, and he knows of some growers who will have to find up to $500,000.

"This is another example of the Government treating small business owners with contempt, while regional development incentives focus on things such as tax advantages for overseas film-makers," he says.

"No-one seems to be looking at the established industries in regional areas that could increase sales with a bit of an incentive - instead small business people continue to take all the risks for less return."

His comments were echoed by the Chairman of the Fresh Vegetable sector, Russell Jordan, who referred to the Kyoto Protocol in his address at the conference.

"Carbon taxes will go through the New Zealand economy like a dose of salts and the glasshouse industry will be the hardest hit. For example capsicums, one of the country's fastest growing exports, will have to compete on the international market against producers that do not have to pay carbon taxes. Growing a market is difficult enough without loading on additional taxes such as this one," he says.

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