GAS TAX: An Oxford University study has found taxing beef and milk products could dissuade people from eating these products and thus lessen carbon emissions, but both industries are major contributors to Australia's economy.
GAS TAX: An Oxford University study has found taxing beef and milk products could dissuade people from eating these products and thus lessen carbon emissions, but both industries are major contributors to Australia's economy. Dave Noonan

Tax would harm industry

TAXING meat and milk could slash emissions from livestock productions, according to one global study.

An Oxford University team has calculated surcharges of 40% on beef and 20% on milk would deter people from consuming as much of these foods, helping to reduce emissions and illness.

Food production contributes a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, largely due to the heavy footprint of cattle and other livestock.

The study published in the journal Nature Climate Change suggested the optimum tax plan could reduce emissions by 1billion tonnes a year.

Last year, Australians ate around 25.4kg of beef per person, maintaining Australia's position as the sixth largest global consumer of beef.

In an unofficial poll, Warwick Daily News readers did not support the idea taxing beef and milk with just 7% saying they would support a tax for beef, but 92% saying they would not support a tax for either product.

AgForce representative Ben Cory said taxes on carbon emissions from the livestock industry had been proposed in the past.

"The cattle industry is a huge part of Australian agriculture and there are lots of benefits to running livestock on the country as long as it's used appropriately," Mr Cory said.

"Anything that's going to affect the price compared to other products would be a disadvantage, and I think it could send the wrong message that producers are doing something bad."

Queensland accounts for 11.3million of the total national herd of 27.4million head of cattle, which includes 2.8 million dairy cattle.

Mr Cory said placing a tax on beef and milk could harm the immense contribution of the cattle industry to the national economy.

According to Meat and Livestock Australia cattle are estimated to have contributed 25% of the total farm value of $57.8billion to the Australian economy, and the red meat industry employs around 200,000 people in total.

"These producers need to be able to do what they do without being over-regulated and taxed," Mr Cory said.

"It all boils down to what agriculture as a whole does for the country's economy, and I think anyone who would propose this tax for Australia would be wise to sit back and learn to appreciate what farmers contribute."



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