CRIPPLING energy prices have seen diesel use skyrocket, as farmers look for more economical sources of on-farm power for sheds, cool rooms and irrigation infrastructure.
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Diesel use by dairy farmers has jumped 77 per cent in the past five years, with farmers turning to generators as their power mainstay. Research has found that for farmers, the term going “off grid” increasingly means turning to diesel, instead of renewables such as solar.
Dairy Australia’s recent annual survey of farm input costs found average dairy farmer diesel use jumped 31 per cent last year compared with 2015-16 levels and 77 per cent compared to 2014-15.
Farmers said they were installing generators as a “risk management tool”, with twice-a-day milking needing a reliable power source.
Dairy Australia farm data analyst Jake Musson said many dairy farmers were now using generators as a “mainstay source of power”.
Mr Musson said farmers reported an increase in shed power costs of up to 200 per cent per kilogram of milk solids produced.
It found a 66 per cent increase in electricity prices in southwest Victoria in the past decade, a 36 per cent increase in northern Victoria and 29 per cent rise in Gippsland.
Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor told The Weekly Times many Victorian farmers were suffering poor energy reliability and higher power prices because of the closure of coal-fired power plants, resulting in a significant impact on reliability and wholesale prices.
Mr Taylor said electricity-related emissions were coming down in Australia, including emissions from diesel, and Australian investment in renewable power was now the highest in the world.
A Victorian Government spokesman said the Andrews Government had introduced initiatives to bring down power prices, including the Victorian energy upgrades program for small businesses and a $30 million agriculture energy investment plan.

Dairy farmers hit a new high for milk production last season, despite the national herd continuing to shrink.

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