Cane harvesting in Qunaba Bundaberg.
Cane harvesting in Qunaba Bundaberg. Mike Knott

TIME TO HELP: Bundy farmers cop '$100k a quarter' power bill

QUEENSLAND backbenchers whose seats could be at risk from sugar farmers angry over a trade war have urged the government to take a tougher stance against India, which is driving down global prices.

MPs including Keith Pitt and Ken O' Dowd have called on the Federal Government to demand India reverse massive subsidies which breach trade rules and could push Queensland sugar farmers out of business.

The pair also called for the Queensland government to slash electricity prices by a third for food and fibre producers.

"Sugar growers are caught in the perfect storm at the moment with India dumping millions of dollars worth of subsidised free sugar onto the world market, sending the price into freefall at the same time that drought related water issues and massive energy costs are causing local sugar production costs to skyrocket," Mr Pitt said.

"A rules based trading system is only good for Australia when everyone plays by the same rules."

"I know canefarmers here in Bundaberg who are paying over $100,000 per quarter for electricity but with sugar selling for around 10 cents a pound they are asking themselves when do they just give up flogging a dead horse.

"The State Government can intervene right now on power prices which could just keep growers' heads above water until the WTO can undertake the longer process of bringing India back into line."

Canegrowers figures show that for every $1000 irrigators pay in network charges, watering their crops for example, the State Government gets $470 in revenue.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has threatened to launch a World Trade Organisation dispute against India but the MPs warned any delays could end up killing off parts of the sugar industry.

"India is in breach of WTO rules. The WTO has to act and act now, not in three years' time because in three years, our sugar industry won't exist if this can't be resolved now," Mr O'Dowd said.