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Cow poo: a big energy earner for struggling dairy farmers?

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John Cherry

Australian Democrats Rural Affairs Spokesperson Senator for Queensland

20 January, 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/012

Cow poo - a big energy earner for struggling dairy farmers?

Processing of cow manure for renewable energy could be turned into a major money spinner for Australia’s struggling dairy farmers according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats Rural Affairs spokesperson Senator John Cherry today called on the Federal Government to provide financial incentives to dairy farmers to convert cow manure into biogas renewable energy.

“Cow poo could be a big money earner for dairy farmers. The technology exists to turn manure into biogas and then into energy right on the farm,” said Senator Cherry.

“In the United States, Washington State is currently looking at tax incentives to harness the energy potential of its 256,000 dairy cows to address the State’s chronic energy shortage.

“Australia’s struggling dairy farmers spend $70 million in power costs each year. With a biogas facility on the farm processing their cow manure, they could generate enough power to cover their own needs, and sell the surplus back into the grid.

“A demonstration biogas plant at the Berrybank piggery in Victoria produces 7000kW of energy a day, covering all of the farm’s needs and generating a 3000kW energy surplus.

“The Berrybank plant recovered its upfront capital cost within 4 years.

“Australia’s dairy farmers have been hurt badly by economic and deregulation policies in recent years, with the average farm profit dropping from $7350 to -$9000 in the last year.

“Biogas energy production offers the opportunity to get twice as much product out of dairy cows - milk and energy.

“It also reduces emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide.

“The Federal Government collects more than $2 billion in taxes on energy from rural Australia each year. Providing capital loans to dairy farmers to turn them into energy generators is affordable and would provide a major boost to one of our most struggling agricultural industries,” Senator Cherry concluded.

For further information: Senator John Cherry 0408 066 105 Pam Hose 07 3252 9129 or 07 5520 5175