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Dairy farmers urge power upgrades to future proof industry

RURAL power networks are no longer serving the needs of farmers and the Victorian Government needs to step in and upgrade the outdated infrastructure, says the State’s peak dairy farmer group.

The United Dairyfarmers of Victoria has blamed single wire earth return (SWER) power lines for threatening to jeopardise the dairy industry’s global competitiveness.

“We need to modernise Victoria’s energy infrastructure by upgrading the SWER lines to 3-phase power across the state,” UDV President Adam Jenkins said.

“As it stands, our dairy farmers cannot continue to operate with a power supply that was barely adequate even last century and fixing the networks will support our innovative, expanding dairy businesses.

“But to achieve any innovation we need help from the State Government so that dairy farmers in areas with poor supply can remain profitable.”

Mr Jenkins said the upgrades were necessary to future-proof the dairy industry and was an opportunity for the Government to take a big-picture approach in ensuring dairy farmers stayed competitive.

“The dairy industry needs investment in power upgrades to strengthen the performance and resilience of our dairy farmers, boost productivity and reduce costs to maintain a competitive advantage and keep jobs,” he said.

“We’ve seen both government investment in private enterprises like the Alcoa aluminium smelter at Portland as a way of keeping local jobs, but it’s important to realise the dairy industry is also an Australian industry that employs thousands of workers.

“Dairy farmers need energy day and night to run their operations and we need to guarantee a reliable power source in our dairy regions to encourage people to invest in these areas.”

The UDV has committed to keep pushing power line upgrades as a priority into 2017.

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