It is a time of uncertainty for Australian fruit and vegetable growers as the wait to find out how much they will be charged for export certification and biosecurity service has been moved by the federal government from November 1 to December 1 this year. However, the final cost-recovery implementation statements for biosecurity and export certification fees and charges are still to be released.
Australian Horticulture Exporters Association chairman David Minnis said smaller exporters in particular would be stung by the proposed three-tiered charges.
The mid-rate tier ($3 a tonne) includes citrus, apples, pears, bananas and nuts and the proposed high-rate tier ($5 a tonne) includes stonefruit, grapes, berries and seeds for sowing.
Mr Minnis said a volume charge would make exporting more of a level playing field for smaller players.
However, the extra charges for getting certification at the weekend would add about $3 to a carton of cherries. Mr Minnis said if he wanted to export cherries on a Saturday morning he would need to pay officers for a minimum of three hours, plus the time the inspection took, along with document fees.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources deputy secretary Jo Evans said the department wanted to provide all users of the biosecurity and export certification systems with as much time as practical to understand the changes and inform clients where needed.