STUDY FUNDING: Cane farmer Mark Pressler with Canegrowers manager Dale Holliss and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd.
STUDY FUNDING: Cane farmer Mark Pressler with Canegrowers manager Dale Holliss and Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd. Geordi Offord

$50k for feasibility study to save our cane farmers

IRRIGATION and electricity costs are the biggest financial burdens on our cane farmers, but a new project could help dull the pain.

A feasibility study was announced today in Bundaberg by Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd into building a Sun Water electricity plant next to pump stations to cut the costs.

Members of Canegrowers, Sun Water and the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme committee sought assistance from the federal government for the study which is tipped to cost $120,000.

If Mr O'Dowd is re-elected he will commit $50,000 to the study.

Cane farmer Mark Pressler said the costly service was vital to his operation.

"If it becomes too expensive for us to use, it leaves the whole system to falter,” he said.

"I would use about 80 per cent of my water allocation each year, this year I've probably used 140 per cent.

"We need access to affordable water, it's one of my biggest costs.”

Mr Pressler said the high rates add to the pressure of growing a decent crop.

"It's quite considerable (the pressure), it can't keep going on like this,” he said.

"I've got a fairly efficient watering system, we've spent a lot of money to run it more economically, but with low commodity prices and high electricity prices eventually it's going to come to a point where I can't keep doing it.”

Bundaberg Canegrowers manager and member of the Bundaberg Water Supply Scheme committee Dale Holliss said getting the water from Sun Water to the hydrants to use for irrigating was expensive.

"I'm very hopeful we can go ahead with the feasibility study and look at the economics,” he said.

"It it doesn't we'll have to re-think whether or not we can have irrigated agriculture in this region.”

Mr O'Dowd said he was approached about the issue nearly four months ago.

"The cost of pumping water was proving to be viable in a lot of cases,” he said.

"There is a lot of dry land cane around Bundaberg at the moment, this is unnecessary when we've got the soil types, the crops and the water but we haven't got the ability to pump that water on in a viable manner.”



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