A COST blow-out for keeping dairy vats cool will financially hit farmers next week when the federal government's carbon tax is officially implemented.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has highlighted the impending price rises for refrigeration gases after one of Australia's largest refrigerant servicing companies, Heatcraft, informed customers that prices would at least double for some products next month. The most common refrigerant, R134a, will rise from $65 to $181 on July 9 while the prices of similar products are also set to rise two to three-fold.
VFF president Peter Tuohey said the average earnings of farmers would slump by more than six per cent next financial year due to the carbon tax.
He said one of the nation's largest refrigerant importers, A-Gas, blamed the federal government's introduction of a special import levy on refrigerants, due to their impact as greenhouse gases.
"Our dairy farmers, horticulture producers, abattoirs and Australia's struggling food processors can't afford further price hikes in the cost of running their businesses," Mr Tuohey said.
"While agriculture is exempt from the tax, farmers will be exposed to a raft of indirect costs like rising electricity prices and additional freight and fuel charges which will damage their bottom line.
"This is a tax that is unnecessary, unwanted and should be deferred until other industrialised nations reach agreement on the way forward. It makes no economic sense for Australia to lead the way on this tax."
The new tax will come into effect on Sunday following many years of debate. The system will be in place for three years until the federal government moves across to an emissions trading scheme. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal the tax if the Coalition is elected next year.
Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said there was a large degree of scare-mongering over the expected refrigeration gas hikes.
"Synthetic greenhouse gases which are used in many refrigerators are often thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in their impact on global warming," Mr Combet said.
"R404A has a global warming potential over 3000 times more potent than carbon dioxide that is why its price will rise under a carbon price.
"Many other refrigerant gases are much less potent."