Producers of horticultural and processed foods such as dairy and chilled meat stand to save an average of $76 tonne per tonne by shifting agricultural freight from road to the under-development Brisbane to Melbourne Inland Rail.
The NFF welcomed the finding in a report by CSIRO, which also found the new rail infrastructure would take up to 63,000 trucks off various parts of the Newell Highway.
The study used the Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) freight calculator to assess supply chain costs and competitiveness.
NFF President Fiona Simson said the saving exceeded the original figure of $10 per tonne.
“The Inland Rail project promises to transform the movement of east coast agricultural freight and therefore improve the bottom line of farmers and agriculture in general.”
Ms Simson said the challenge now was to ensure the $8 billion project did indeed deliver the predicted benefits for farmers and this depended on strong collaboration between state and federal Governments.
“The focus at this stage of the project must be on governments working together to facilitate and guarantee interconnectivity between existing freight lines into the Inland Rail. This should include the upgrade of connecting regional rail lines to ensure 25 tonne total axle loading on all regional main lines to reduce handling costs.”
Ms Simson said there was no doubt that the landmark infrastructure project was complex and Governments had only one opportunity to get it right.
“Getting it right will necessitate consulting with all stakeholders, including farmers, other industries and regional communities to arrive at a solution that benefits all.
“We support the work of NSW Farmers in representing the interests of farmers on issues surrounding interconnectivity, the most effective rail route and the fair acquisition of land.
“Getting produce from farm to port as efficiently and cost effectively as possible is critical to Australia’s international competitiveness.
“Up to 70 per cent of Australia’s agricultural produce is exported. We compete in highly price sensitive markets, against producing countries, many of which are closer to market and/or have more efficient freight lines.
“If done properly, the Inland Rail project will be a state-of-the-art rail corridor that will assist to set our east coast farm sector up for success for many years to come,” Ms Simson said.