Federal Government to Help Dairy Farms Reduce Energy Bills and Lower Emissions

Federal Government to Help Dairy Farms Reduce Energy Bills and Lower Emissions
Taralga Wind Farm in Taralga, NSW, Australia on Aug. 31, 2015. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Alex Joseph

Australian dairy farmers have been given federal government grants to reduce power bills and upgrade to energy-efficient equipment as the industry transitions towards low emission targets by 2030.

Announcing the $3.5 million Energy Efficient Communities Program on Nov. 2, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, and David Littleproud the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management said that 551 dairy farmers, mainly localised in Australia's south-east, would get funding of up to $20,000 to invest in energy reduction.

Some of the highest overheads in the dairy industry are milk cooling, milking cows, and heating water said Littleproud noting that anything that can be done to lower expenses will help farmers with financial resilience.

“Many businesses are struggling at the moment and dairy farmers, in particular, are continuing to do it tough in the drought and the aftermath of devastating bushfires,” Littleproud said in a media release on Nov. 2. “These grants will provide welcome support at a time when so many in the agricultural sector are struggling."
Bushfires, droughts, and this year's economic downturn from CCP virus restrictions have all posed difficulties for the dairy industry's recovery.

“Dairy farmers are critical to the sustainability of regional Australia, so it’s critical that we support their longer-term sustainability,” Littleproud said.

The funds can be spent on a variety of energy reduction initiatives, including management monitoring systems, more efficient vacuum pumps or cooling and heating equipment.

Dairy farmers can also invest in monitoring systems to better manage their energy use, or obtain an energy audit for their operations.

According to PWC, the Australian dairy industry is the country's third-largest rural industry behind beef and wheat and is valued at $4 billion. Although a small producer of milk, the industry is also the world’s third-largest dairy exporter.

Taylor said dairy farmers are at the centre of an industry every Australian relies on.

“Helping these businesses to cut their power bills by becoming more energy efficient will ease the financial pressures they face while also reducing our emissions. It’s a win-win.”

Australia has a goal to become a clean energy world leader with targets to reach by 2030.

During an interview on Oct. 30 on 2GB, Taylor said the targets could be reached without having to "sacrifice jobs to reduce emissions," an assertion made by opposition agriculture minister Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon.

According to Taylor, Labor would  "slash the economy, slash sectors, slash gas and coal and other important industries to this country," to reach lower emission targets.

Labor's goal of zero emissions by 2050 has been met with mix views within the party. Fitzgibbon's rebuttal to Taylor's comments was that gas is needed to some extent.

"We can't put more renewables into the energy grid without firming power from our gas-fired generators. So, of course, we do. I think we've had some differences in languages in the past, some of my colleagues like to talk more and more about renewables and renewables jobs, rightly so."