The energy price crisis affecting Australian agriculture is not going away, according to the Ag Energy Taskforce.
It says food and fibre producers want politicians to focus their election campaigns on finding solutions, rather than arguing.
The Ag Energy Taskforce is an informal group of agricultural peak bodies convened by the National Irrigators' Council and involving the National, Queensland and NSW Farmers, commodity groups and regional irrigators.
National Irrigators Council chief executive Steve Whan said electricity market failure had pushed producers into the red, and called for politicians to impose a limit on power prices.
"This problem has been a decade in the making, a decade of policy confusion resulting in bizarre outcomes. This election must see the end of the energy and climate wars, we need policy certainty.
"Our bottom line is current energy prices are too high for Australia to be competitive with the rest of the world," Mr Whan said.
"That's a sad state of affairs for a country with so many natural advantages in agriculture and energy. We believe that there should be a price ceiling - a maximum - of 16 cents per kilowatt hour."
He said the next federal government must make the electricity market work like a market, eliminate excessive profit margins that are costing Australia jobs and production, and back primary producers to switch to renewable power with storage.
"Farmers including irrigation farmers are very keen to move into renewables wherever possible. In fact, the sector has the biggest take up of Clean Energy Finance Corporation grants, funding hundreds of on and off grid solar installations - with many more funded solely by the farmer," Mr Whan said.
"But solar without storage or diesel backup doesn't work for everyone and the increasingly high cost of power from the grid is having the bizarre outcome of seeing some producers going off grid and instead installing diesel generators using imported fossil fuels."
Cotton Australia general manager Michael Murray, General Manager said incoming tariffs in Queensland could increase individual bills by up to 300 per cent, forcing those users off the grid.
"While the latest draft determination by the Queensland Competition Authority has forecast some easing in prices for regional Queenslanders, it has, once again, failed to address the impending disaster for forced migration to demand based tariffs for many rural users," Mr Murray said.
Ag Energy Taskforce energy policy wishlist
- 16 cents/kWh maximum Implement ACCC recommendations
- Optimise the Regulated Asset Base Introduction of irrigator tariffs
- Genuine competition in the NEM Make it easier to build local networks
- Reduce barriers to connecting on-farm generation to the grid
- Policy certainty A $250 million water and energy productivity program
- Funding support for policy engagement
The story End climate wars to give ag sector power price relief first appeared on Farm Online.