South-West Victorian dairy farmers have expressed frustration that poor, unreliable power supply was hampering their plans to expand.
Tyrendarra dairy farmer Bruce Knowles said the biggest problem was the ‘user pays’ system.
“While they maintain that policy, we are not going to get long-term planning for infrastructure,” Mr Knowles said.
He said he had to buy two generators for his property, at a cost of $100,000, to ensure a reliable electricity supply.
“One is to back up the other, which is crazy. But if the power goes out, I have security,” he said.
He said an investment now would pay dividends over time.
“The regions contribute a lot of income to the state, and the feeling is they aren’t getting any payback from government,” he said.
Bullaharre dairy farmer Craig Dwyer said while he was 12 kilometres from the Cobden dairy processing plant, his farm was at the end of a SWER line.
“That has limited my ability for efficiencies and cost saving on farm, because of restrictions on the power I can receive,” Mr Dwyer said.
“Our energy bills are higher because our cooling systems are running for longer because we don’t have an efficient power supply.”
He said it would cost $360,0000 to upgrade the current SWER line.
“It is cost prohibitive. Should the neighbours decide to sell, it’s going to be too restrictive to expand,” he said.
He said there was the potential to expand his 240 strong herd to 400.
“The biggest conundrum I find is that we are so close to a processing plant, but have these restrictions imposed on the infrastructure that’s currently available. If the government wants a sustainable dairy industry, that becomes more efficient, it’s a worthwhile exercise,” he said.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria Wannon branch vice president Casey Taylor said most of the poles and wire were installed in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Mr Taylor said one of the most significant issues was the ongoing reliability of power.
“We need to be able to draw more out of the grid, that’s the biggest issue for us,” he said.