Farmers hit by lentil tariff

TAX: Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey says the tax is causing huge concerns for the lentil and chickpea industries.

TAX: Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey says the tax is causing huge concerns for the lentil and chickpea industries.

Eyre Peninsula farmers may be affected by a new 30 per cent tariff on lentil and chickpea imports set by the Indian government in late December.

Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey has expressed his concern and disappointment with the Indian government’s decision to impose the import tax and said the tariff may affect farmers who were harvesting their pulse crops.

“(The tariff) comes at a very inopportune time with the new harvest just coming to completion, meaning pulse crops are at various stages of marketing with some currently on transit to India,” Mr Ramsay said.

“Lentils in particular have become a very important part of our South Australian farming economy providing a wonderful high price cash crop in recent years.

“Millions of dollars have been invested in infrastructure to harvest, store and market Australian lentils, so this decision by the Indian Government is causing huge concerns for both the lentil and chickpea industries.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia November 2017 crop and pasture report estimated 400 tonnes of chickpeas and 3300 tonnes of lentils would be harvested by Lower Eyre Peninsula farmers during the 2017-18 harvest.

Mr Ramsey said he had been in contact with trade minister Steve Ciobo regarding the decision.

He said Mr Ciobo had asked the Indian authorities to “adopt a period of transition” to avoid disrupting contracts for chickpeas and lentils, which could already be in transit.

Mr Ramsey said in the 2016-17 financial year, Australia exported $1.1 billion of chickpeas and $195.9 million of lentils to India.

He said the Indian government’s decision underlined the free trade agreements the federal government aimed to create.

“Free access to international markets is essential for our farmers and our industries.

“We simply can’t sell all we make and grow to ourselves,” Mr Ramsey said.