Warren Truss, Australia’s Federal minister for agriculture, said yesterday [Thursday] that the government has yet to fine-tune an A$150m (US$82m) recovery plan for sugar farmers.

The recovery is to be funded by a levy on retail sugar, but it is unclear whether this will be extended to wholesale sugar sales, reported the Australian Financial Review. It will take several weeks to finalise details of how the levy will be applied, Truss said.

The sugar industry is struggling under the impact of falling world prices and drought and a levy had been proposed as a major part of the assistance programme. The levy will be about 16-18 cents per kilogram on retail sugar sales.

Truss said: “I have listened to the manufacturers and their concerns about not wanting increased costs and their determination naturally to get their raw materials as cheaply as possible and we’ve got to take their concerns into consideration.

“But perhaps more important is our capacity to design a system that will work effectively to achieve our objectives to raise the amount of money required in a fair and reasonable manner.”

The Government expects to raise more than $100m from the levy over four years, with an extra $50m to come from matching Federal and Queensland Government grants. About $60m of the total package will go towards a regional adjustment package to help farmers and sugar mills diversify into new products, the report continued.