Irrigators like John Cochrane fear a coming series of electricity price rises.
Irrigators like John Cochrane fear a coming series of electricity price rises. Craig Warhurst

Farmers fear as power prices take another 'significant' hike

HUNDREDS of Queensland farmers, including irrigation and dairy farmers in the Gympie region, will go broke under forecast power price rises over the next seven years, it was claimed yesterday.

Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri said a recent 10% reprieve from the State Government, halving next year's announced 20% power price rise for farming industries, was welcome.

But planned similar increases over the next seven years would send farmers broke throughout the irrigated farming sector, he said.

The Queensland Farmers Federation said farmers had suffered enough from price rises in the order of 200% in five years and the latest 20% rise was a serious threat to the viability of many energy-dependent farming operations.

It welcomed the announcement that the increase for their businesses would be kept to 10%.

The news comes as the Maryborough Sugar Factory calls for Mary Valley farmers to join their industry, in response to short supplies.

QFF CEO Dan Galligan said farmers had been facing significant year-on-year rises and the latest one was a serious threat to the viability of many energy-dependent intensive agricultural industries.

"We know a 10% rise is still significant, but this reprieve is a welcome move from the Newman Government and recognises the important economic contribution that agriculture makes to the state and regional economy.

"This will give the industry some breathing space," he said.

Mr Schembri said the initially proposed 20% rise was one problem, but "similar hikes every year over the next seven years" were still a major threat to farming viability.

"A 10% hike is a marked improvement, but perhaps more importantly the door has been left open to discuss the price path in future years," Mr Schembri said.

He said the group would keep talking to the government about the impact of continuing increases on "the whole irrigated farming sector."

Gympie Times

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