Diesel cost a bur­den for farm­ers

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - NEWS - Melissa Wil­liams

The State’s farm­ers are star­ing down the bar­rel of a 30 per cent hike in diesel costs dur­ing the peak har­vest us­age pe­riod, as city mo­torists grap­ple with record high petrol prices at the bowser.

While most car driv­ers are pay­ing about $15 more to fill their tanks than at this time last year at prices of $1.65/litre, the av­er­age grain grower stands to spend an ex­tra $150-$240 a day on fuel com­pared with the 2017 har­vest to run a header, chaser bin and truck.

That is the es­ti­mate of north Mullewa farm­ers Tris­tian and Rob Jenkin, who said diesel costs were about $1.08/litre on-farm at har­vest last year but were about $1.40/ litre this month, ac­count­ing for re­bates.

The fa­ther and son team con­sume about 500-800 litres of fuel daily as they strip their 2500ha crop, as part of the farm’s to­tal an­nual fuel use of 30,000-40,000 litres.

This is a sig­nif­i­cant op­er­at­ing ex­pense for the busi­ness and Tris­tian said it was dif­fi­cult to lock-in for­ward prices.

“The higher price this year will be par­tially off­set by strong grain prices and slightly above av­er­age crop yields, but diesel is still about 10 per cent of our to­tal in­put costs and we will be chew­ing through thou­sands of dol­lars worth in the next few weeks,” he said.

“I am also run­ning a lo­cally­based steel fabri­ca­tion busi­ness and the cost of get­ting diesel to op­er­ate my three-phase power sys­tem is mas­sive com­pared to what I would pay in the city.”

The Jenk­ins had har­vested about 120ha of their 100 per cent wheat crop to the end of last week and grain yields were av­er­ag­ing 1.5-2 tonnes/ha, with good protein lev­els of 12 to 13 per cent that were meet­ing the H1 grade.

WAFarm­ers pres­i­dent Tony York said un­for­tu­nately fuel prices were cycli­cal and, while it was dis­ap­point­ing to see such a big spike go­ing into this year’s har­vest, the up­side was higher grain prices.

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