The $4 million local Australian tea tree industry has welcomed the introduction of a levy to support the industry in research and development.
Deputy prime minister and minister for agriculture and water resources Barnaby Joyce on Monday visited a Maria River Road tea tree property to announce the levy.
Mr Joyce said the industry strongly supported the levy which will ensure tea tree oil producers invest equitably in research and development and provide industry with greater certainty about future funding for investment in longer term projects.
The levy is expected to collect around $140,000 from the industry each year and will be managed by the rural industries research and development corporation.
The federal government will match expenditure by the corporation on eligible tea tree oil R&D dollar for dollar.
“Industry will now have a mechanism to contribute to national cost-shared eradication responses in the case of pest or disease incursion,” Mr Joyce said.
“The funding will also support research into finding other innovative uses for this widely used oil.”
Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker said the levy could see an increase in production and an increase in pricing.
“This should, in turn, help create higher farm gate profitability,” he said.
“In terms of research and development, you can expect to see huge returns on these investments with a pay back many times the initial investment.”
In terms of research and development, you can expect to see huge returns on these investments with a pay back many times the initial investmentCowper MP Luke Hartsuyker
Main Camp Natural Extracts’ director of farming operations John Seccombe said the nine tea tree farms under his control are responsible for some 250 tonnes of raw product.
“As the biggest producer in Australia, we export throughout the world.
“This levy – which 96% of the industry voted for – really shores up the future of the industry.
“We had an involuntary levy in place prior to this. As a major player on the world stage, we need to ensure the industry remains at the forefront of research and continued development.”
Main Camp Natural Extracts has three properties around the Maria River Road area – which are managed by Barry Langdon – with a further six properties centred around Lismore, Coraki and Casino.
Mr Joyce said the government’s dollar for dollar commitment would continue to increase alongside the industry’s growth.