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Interview with Josh Becker, ABC South East NSW

23 June 2020

Josh Becker

Subject: Grants for dairy farms, energy efficiency, energy consumption, power bills.


JOSH BECKER: The Federal Government announced that dairy farmers would be eligible for a $20,000 grant to lower their power bills and reduce their emissions. Electricity is one of the largest costs for dairy farmers who require power for irrigation and for refrigeration. However the $10 million program will only cover around 500 farmers which represents less than 10 per cent of all of Australia’s dairy farmers. Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, says dairy farmers should adopt new technology to save money on farm.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Yeah, this is delivering on an election commitment to help dairy farmers lower their power bills, and in the process help to reduce Australia's emissions. It's grants of up to $20,000 available for dairy farming businesses and they can use that money to upgrade their equipment to reduce energy consumption, invest in monitoring systems, or better manage the energy use, extends right to conducting energy audits to investigate opportunities for energy-efficient investments. And it is crucial now that we help our dairy farmers to reduce their costs wherever we can, in a way which also brings down our emissions. So everyone wins from this. There's lots of new innovation that has been happening in energy efficiency for dairy farmers and others. Dairy farmers are particularly big users of energy - for refrigeration, also for pumping water - and for that reason, this is a really important industry for us to focus on.

JOSH BECKER: And so, for dairy farmers thinking how could they spend that money, you mentioned energy audits. Things like solar panels on dairy sheds? Are there other things as well?

ANGUS TAYLOR: It's focused on anything that will reduce their energy consumption directly, so that might be monitoring systems. A lot of dairy farmers don't know exactly where their energy is being used - how much of it is coming from pumps, how much of it is coming from irrigation equipment, how much of it is coming from refrigeration - and so helping to monitor that can be an important part of this. But also just replacing equipment. I was talking to a dairy farmer today on the south coast of New South Wales and they are really focused on replacing their dairy. They've got to get the very best equipment to do that, and that will help with reducing their energy costs.

JOSH BECKER: This is a $10 million program. If the grants are $20,000 each, that's about 500 farmers that could be eligible for these grants out of 5,800 dairy farmers across Australia. So, it's really a small amount of farmers that are going to be able to access this loan?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well not everyone will necessarily get $20,000, they won't necessarily ask for $20,000. But certainly, upwards of 500 will benefit from it. But let's be clear here: what we've found historically is when we get an industry focused on energy efficiency, then it brings in new technologies and skills, and then it starts to build its own momentum. And that's where government plays a role - to actually get it an industry focusing on energy efficiency opportunities. As it does, the skills will be there. Those skilled people will help farmers to identify opportunities and build momentum over time, and that's exactly what we're looking for here. We know it's a tried-and-tested approach with agriculture more generally - I've seen it many, many times over the years - that once the incentives are there to get innovations moving, people understand them, people roll them out, they learn from their neighbours and away you go. And that's what we're looking for here.

JOSH BECKER: That's the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, there.