Energy and Power
The reliability, availability and cost of energy have a large impact on agriculture.
The VFF is working with a number of parties, both government and non-government, to give industry options on both the price and the source of its energy. As such, the VFF developed the farming cooperative RICL 25 years ago to ensure gas access at a reasonable price for large gas users.
Within the intensive industries such as the chicken and pig sectors, reliability of energy is more than an economic issue; the lack of energy (blackouts) have the potential to cause animal welfare issues.
The VFF’s long term approach is to secure agriculture’s energy future at affordable prices and reliability to underpin a thriving agriculture sector.
Victorian Dairy Industry
A 2017 feasibility study (New energy options for the Victorian dairy industry) completed by the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria found dairy farming operations are constrained by Single Wire Earth Return (SWER) power infrastructure. The Study found larger operators were able to harness 3-phase rebate programs with a return on investment yet for small to medium dairy farmers (<550 cows) the ROI gap is too excessive.
The Study concluded the SWER infrastructure, along with the typical heating, miking and refrigeration systems, used by dairy farmers, limited a dairy’s ability to increase herd size and productivity. This combination of systems increased the propensity of power overload and failure.
Practical training for dairy farmers, electricians and contractors on cost-effective solutions to power quality and voltage distribution during milking operations (heating, milking and refrigeration) will reduce peak demand and enhance power quality and supply. A move from failure recovery (mechanics) to designed solutions (engineering).
Reinstating the 3-phase power rebate program and developing a mechanism for small to medium dairy farmers to access 3-phase power under lower entry costs would provide a platform for industry growth.
The UDV supports the recommendations of the Study and advocates on behalf of Victorian farmers for the implementation of these actions.