Leader: Har­vest to con­sol­i­date re­gion

AgLife - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion pres­i­dent David Jochinke hopes a bumper har­vest this sum­mer will pro­vide a Christ­mas ‘shot in the arm’ for re­gional cen­tres that rely heav­ily on a healthy agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

Mr Jochinke, who farms at Murra Warra be­tween Hor­sham and War­rackn­abeal, said small ru­ral town­ships that had, in par­tic­u­lar, felt the full im­pact of hard years should get a boost from con­sid­er­able har­vest ac­tiv­ity.

“I be­lieve this har­vest rep­re­sents a great op­por­tu­nity for towns that di­rectly ser­vice the broad­acre farm­ing com­mu­nity to con­sol­i­date,” he said.

“The results of a suc­cess­ful har­vest run through re­gional com­mu­ni­ties and pro­vides clear un­der­stand­ing of how agri­cul­ture drives the re­gional econ­omy.

“Sea­sonal jobs are up and go­ing. It’s great to have a chat to young kids on bunker sites who are mak­ing some money and gen­er­ally get­ting ex­posed to the ben­e­fits of agri­cul­ture.

“I also bumped into a truck driver who had been out of work for a while who has man­aged to pick up a job dur­ing har­vest. He will now have money in his pocket for Christ­mas. There’s a sig­nif­i­cant flow-on ef­fect.”

Mr Jochinke said the im­pact of prom­ise turn­ing into pos­i­tive results would be wide­spread.

“Hope­fully this year rep­re­sents just re­ward for three years of toil, be­cause to be hon­est, it’s been pretty tough be­fore­hand,” he said.

“I think many farm­ers are al­ready hav­ing their Christ­mas be­cause har­vest it­self is a time when they get re­ward for 12 months worth of work.”

Mr Jochinke said the Christ­mas mood in re­gional farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties was gen­er­ally buoy­ant, but the sheer size of the Wim­mera-Mallee har­vest was al­ready lead­ing to peo­ple get­ting tired.

“It’s go­ing to be a long har­vest, and when it’s all said and done there will be a lot of ex­hausted peo­ple out there,” he said.

“It’s been a long sea­son, from sow­ing and a lengthy man­age­ment pe­riod try­ing to nurse good crops through threats from ex­treme vari­ables in weather and dis­ease, to get­ting it in the bin. I’d be tip­ping that in our area at least it will be an early Jan­uary fin- ish, which has tra­di­tion­ally sig­nalled a good year.”

Mr Jochinke urged farm­ers, de­spite hav­ing ‘itchy feet’ and be­ing desperate to get as much of the har­vest done as quickly as pos­si­ble, to find time for a break at Christ­mas.

“Ev­ery­one needs time off to cel­e­brate the rea­son why we all farm,” he said. “And I’d say for most farm­ers, with re­gards to this Christ­mas, it will be much more joy­ous than the past two. I hope peo­ple can take a break, recharge the bat­ter­ies and then con­cen­trate on fin­ish­ing it all off.”

Mr Jochinke said grain-grow­ers had gen­er­ally first con­cen­trated on strip­ping bar­ley and canola be­fore try­ing to har­vest valu­able legumes.

“Beans and lentils are pretty much ready to go now in much of the Wim­mera and at the mo­ment lentils are among the most valu­able cross-mar­gin crops in the ground. But from now on they are also the most vul­ner­a­ble to frost,” he said.

“Lentils and chick­peas are the crops ev­ery­one des­per­ately wants to get off. Chick­peas are prob­a­bly a good two to three weeks away and wheat usu­ally ma­tures later.”

Mr Jochinke said he was hear­ing re­ports of a con­sid­er­able amount of lo­calised frost dam­age, mainly in bar­ley and wheat crops.

“When I say that, many crops are still look­ing good but they have po­ten­tially lost a lot of ‘cream’,” he said.

“But it is still one of the bet­ter sum­mer har­vests we have had in the past three years.”

“Ev­ery­one needs time off to cel­e­brate the rea­son why we all farm. And I’d say for most farm­ers, with re­gards to this Christ­mas, it will be much more joy­ous than the past two” – David Jochinke

David Jochinke

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