The increasing cost of living is being felt by business and consumers across the board. Queensland farmers have seen the cost of key inputs such as labour, fertiliser and fuel continue to escalate in recent years, and this is having a significant flow on effect to the overall costs of on farm production.
In September last year, the Senate established the Select Committee on the Cost of Living to inquire into and report on the cost of living pressures facing Australians. As a part of this inquiry, the Committee is tasked with reviewing the Government’s fiscal policy response to the cost of living, ways to ease cost of living pressures through the tax and transfer system, and measures to ease the cost of living through the provision of Government services.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) CEO Jo Sheppard will be presenting to the Committee this week to raise a number of key topics including the critical role reliable and affordable energy plays in underpinning a strong economy and supporting stability in cost of living pressures.
The cost of producing essential goods and services has a direct impact on the affordability of community staples needed by everyone in our communities, including food, clothing, medical services and housing. If we are to ease cost of living pressures, we must build a sustainable food system encompassing the entire food supply chain.
Farming relies on being able to source reliable and affordable energy. Pumps, tractors, cool storage, harvesting, maintaining crops and livestock facilities all require large amounts of energy. The entire agricultural supply chain depends on energy. For example, energy use accounts for at least 15 per cent of the total operational cost in food and beverage manufacturing businesses. The cost of transport is directly impacted by the cost of fuel, and energy is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing input costs for many farmers.
On farm energy efficiency is vital and QFF has delivered energy audits to over 300 farms across all sectors through the Energy Savers program resulting in annual energy savings of over 7.5 million kWh.
However, with global energy supply and price issues continuing, business and industry needs leadership from state and federal governments and effective policy levers that will ensure affordable and reliable energy is accessible to all in the future.
High inflation prompted by rising energy prices and other factors remain key concerns for global businesses and economies as revealed in the Global Economic Survey 2023 reports released last month. The reports also cited that reduced productivity and business shutdowns are likely to be a consequence of the current energy landscape and its impact.
Food, fibre and foliage is essential for consumers not just in Queensland, but across the world. We must build a sustainable agricultural supply chain if we are going to ease cost of living pressures. Securing the sustainable supply of affordable and reliable energy for business and industry underpins our capacity to boost productivity and in turn bring stability back to the cost of living.