Farmers dealt a power blow

07 Apr, 2017 04:00 AM
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Chris Gleeson: Farmers are opting to exit rather than work for $2 or $3 an hour.
I would recommend every farmer has a back-up supply going forward.
Chris Gleeson: Farmers are opting to exit rather than work for $2 or $3 an hour.

Farmers have been dealt another blow with the closure of the Hazelwood power station, according to Victorian dairyfarmer Chris Gleeson.

The Crossley dairyfarmer said the closure would result in higher electricity prices and uncertainty about continuous power supply.

Mr Gleeson said his electricity bill had doubled in the past 10 years.

"It's a big issue," he said.

Mr Gleeson said increases in running costs for farmers meant they were getting little return on investment for the amount of hours they put in.

"If someone doesn't love what they're doing they're not going to continue doing it," he said.

"Farmers are opting to exit rather than work for $2 or $3 an hour."

Mr Gleeson said in addition to footing higher electricity bills, farmers were being forced to consider back-up power sources.

"I would recommend every farmer has a back-up supply going forward," he said.

Mr Gleeson said this was an added financial burden for cash-strapped farmers, with a generator costing up to $10,000.

He is concerned about the industry's future and believes this latest blow will be enough to force some farmers out.

Mr Gleeson said 220 dairy farmers had already exited the industry this year.

"I know of more farmers wanting to get out," Mr Gleeson said.

He said this would have serious ramifications.

"Food security is going to become a major issue for our country," Mr Gleeson said.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said the state was in desperate need of an energy strategy.

He said the government must put one in place by the end of the year to restore confidence in farming.

"In Victoria we produce a lot of electricity, however we are not necessarily benefiting from the fact we are very strong in electricity," Mr Jochinke said.

He said farmers needed to have certainty when it came to electricity.

"What we really want to see is a strategy of energy across Victoria and how we're going to see the demands met," Mr Jochinke said.

He said the closure of Hazelwood was a big concern for farmers.

"The surety that we used to enjoy and we have enjoyed since the 60s has been thrown into question," Mr Jochinke said.

"We desperately need an energy strategy."

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