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Byron Shire
March 4, 2021

Local farmers miss out on free trade deal: Labor

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We love to receive letters, but not every letter will be published; the publication of letters is at the discretion of the online and print letters editors.

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Crops including rice, sugar, and grain, as well as dairy and pork, have missed out on being included in Australia’s recently signed free-trade deal with Japan, according to the National Farmers Federation.

And state Labor has been quick to take up the cudgels on behalf of north coast sugar farmers.

While recognising the deal is a federal initiative, Tweed ALP hopeful Ron Goodman and shadow minister for the north coast Walt Secord say their counterparts could have done more.

‘Australian sugar – especially NSW north coast sugar – is the best in the world and it is internationally recognised for its high quality,’ Mr Goodman said.

‘Rather than celebrating the agreement, Queensland and the NSW north coast sugar growers are disappointed that they are not sharing in the economic benefits of gaining market access to the massive Japanese market,’ he added.

‘Unfortunately, over the last 15 years, Australian sugar exports to Japan have dropped significantly from 900,000 tonnes to 300,000 tonnes.

‘We live in a world economy and agriculture depends on export markets, and the north coast should get the benefits from those international agreements.

‘Once again, the National Party has let down north coast families,’ Mr Goodman said.

‘While we recognise most of Australia’s sugar is grown in Queensland, there is still a strong NSW industry. This is about supporting Australian and north coast jobs,’ Mr Secord said.

‘Japanese tariffs will remain on Australian sugar and that is very disappointing as 80 per cent of Australia’s sugar is exported,’ he added.

‘The failure to include sugar in the FTA shows yet again how National Party MPs Geoff Provest, Don Page, Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis have failed to represent north coast businesses and families.’

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