And this was stifling investment, the earning potential of the industry and the entire south west community.
About 88 farmers, local councillors and community members attended the meeting, where a resolution, moved by Grassmere farmer Basil Ryan, demanded action.
“While recognising the importance of clean energy, (we) demand state and federal governments to collaborate and act to reduce the cost of energy and also act to provide infrastructure to make electricity available of adequate strength at reasonable cost to all areas,” he said.
Dairy Australia manager of policy strategy Claire Miller told the crowd energy costs were set to rise 50-70 per cent this financial year — or $100 million. She said this equated to 1 cent a litre less for farmers. She said farmers were also likely to add $3760 to shed bills which have averaged $18,800 during the past three years.
Ms Miller also warned farmers “will effectively pay twice” with lower farmgate milk prices compensating for energy price hikes for milk prices and higher energy bills on farm.
Dairy Australia commercial research and analysis manager Norman Repacholi said dairy farming and processing injected $286 million into the south west economy.
He showed analysis where a local dairy farm, milking 277 cows injected $473,000 back into the community, providing 3.6 full-time equivalent jobs in farming and processing.
Great South Coast Food and Fibre Council executive officer Tony Ford said the region was number two in Australia for farmgate output, growing at 8 per cent per year. He said power was a capacity impediment, with much of the region having “third world poles and wires”.
He put the case for government funding of $4 million for energy infrastructure to deliver three-phase power to new areas. He said if this added just one 500 cow farm, the benefit to cost ratio across 25 years would be 1.94 times.