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Victorian Farmers Federation, wind group dispute benefits of green energy production

A wind turbine spat has developed between the state’s farming and environmental lobbies over a national plan to increase clean energy production.

The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has called on the federal government to follow through with its plan to abolish the renewable energy target (RET) and eradicate the flow-on impact on farm electricity bills.

VFF president Peter Tuohey said if the RET was maintained, dairy farmers in particular would pay at least 10 per cent extra for electricity.

The stance has come under fire from the Australian Wind Alliance, which has claimed that many farmers were supportive of the RET due to expansion of the wind turbine sector.

Mr Tuohey said the federal government had successfully rid Australia of the carbon tax and believed the next logical step was to abolish the RET.

“The renewable energy target makes Australian agriculture uncompetitive in international markets when a number of other countries don’t have the same restrictions,” Mr Tuohey said.

“Some dairy farmers have to pay $4000 a quarter at the moment.

“If abolishing the target means reducing electricity costs to farmers then obviously farmers would welcome that.”

Wind Alliance spokesman Andrew Bray said the VFF had failed to properly investigate the relationship between agriculture and wind energy.

“Speculation around cuts to the RET has killed confidence in the renewable energy industry,” Mr Bray said.

“This is going to hit farmers who want to host turbines hard by denying them the potential to derive income from their property.

“It’s puzzling that the VFF would choose to ignore the benefits to farmers that flow from wind farms and line up behind the polluting power plants instead.

“A proper analysis was done for the RET review. It explicitly states that the RET has little effect on power bills – including food processors – and in the medium term it lowers power prices.”

A national review headed by businessman Dick Warburton recommended last month that the federal government scrap the RET in order to boost Australia’s export competitiveness.