Labour shortages are shaping up to be a prime issue for farmers in the Wimmera-Mallee region ahead of the federal and Victorian state elections.
One of those farmers, Jason Mellings, Carron runs a cropping farm where rain and seasonal outlooks look to provide good outcomes, but he is very concerned over staffing, which has flow-on effects on his operation.
"Only one part of this issue is transport, and the way the game is going now, there's probably a fair bit going on-farm with our operation putting up a new big silo," Mr Mellings said.
"We've got a couple of trucks, and sometimes it actually pays for us to store things and cart it ourselves because it's a convenience factor, but the problem is someone's going to drive the damn things."
"You've also got to get the truck maintained fixed so you can't do it yourself, and even then, the garage hasn't got enough labour too."
Mr Mellings has also been looking for an air seeder driver for several weeks, but "anyone who is any good is hard to find"
He said his situation was only a minor part of a broader problem impacting rural communities.
"I can speak on behalf of the grain industry, and worker shortage is just a real problem as far as on-farm work goes," he said.
"But there are many broader sides to this problem, like the local GPS guy in town was so inundated with work and under so much pressure he left his job.
"So now the GPS company he works for got no one and no one's now willing to take it on."
Fellow farmer Craig Henderson, who owns several properties through the Wimmera and southern Mallee, has similar issues regarding staffing for transportation.
While there are enough staff to help with the current cropping season, getting permanent staff "is just a nightmare."
"We're looking for a truck driver and mechanic at the moment, plus a couple of others for our business in the poultry game, and it is just a real problem, and I fear it's not getting any better," he said.
Mr Henderson believes there are still some overhangs from COVID pandemic restrictions that detrimentally impact farmers in his region, and a different approach is needed to sustain agriculture workers in the area.
"We've got to have some changes here in Victoria... like the dropping of mandatory COVID vaccinations because that's holding many people back from having jobs here," he said.
"We do get people applying for jobs, but many haven't got that vaccination, and while they are qualified we just can't put them on even though we need staff."
But cropping farmer Graeme Maher, Lubeck, believes there are still ways to handle the shortage, particularly for those who run smaller operations.
He said operators should be prepared to look towards higher payment rates for employees if they want to retain them for long periods.
"I would like to think we've been very proactive here," he said.
"We pay well, and I'm significantly above award rates, but that's based on the principle that I can retain the labour we want long term, then I don't have to re-train everyone,"
Mr Maher has recently employed a young farmhand who recently graduated high school, and he was happy to train and give instructions for his cropping operation.
But it was not a process he wanted to go through regularly, citing that "it would be seriously unproductive for me."
"I know many people utilise backpackers and are willing to go through that because they are a bigger operation, but for me, I prefer to pay permanent staff and pay them well to keep them and take the uncertainty of the labour issue," he said.
Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the Wimmera-Malle region having the equal biggest percentage reduction in the total labour force from 2019-20 to 2020-21, with 12 per cent of workers in that region leaving the workforce.
The Shepparton region also saw that percentage loss of workers, while the Ballarat and Bendigo regions saw a 6pc drop in workers.
The Wimmera-Malle also saw the highest proportion in Victoria (62pc) of large farms reporting more recruitment difficulty in 2020-21 than the previous financial year.
On Tuesday, the Federal Labor party announced they would reform the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme's Seasonal Worker Program and expand the Palm Pacific Labour Scheme if elected.
The federal government had announced the first memorandum of understanding under the Australian Agriculture Visa Program signed with Vietnam earlier this year.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud criticised Labor's announcement saying it "trashes and agreement with a sovereign country" and "restricts access to markets".
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