Leader: Harvest to consolidate region
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