AUSTRALIA’s grain handlers have put the word out for harvest workers to sign up early in preparation for what is potentially going to be a bumper 2021/22 harvest.
South Australia-based Viterra has opened applications for 1500 seasonal positions across SA and western Victoria as it prepares for a promising 2021/22 harvest.
Viterra operations manager Michael Hill said harvest workers were more important than ever this year to help get Australian grain to market.
“Grain is a key commodity in South Australia and western Victoria, contributing significantly to state and local economies. Harvest workers play a big role in helping move locally grown grain into storage so that it can be sold to markets across Australia and globally,” Mr Hill said.
With roles appealing to a wide range of job seekers, there is flexibility to be based at 55 storage and handling locations, with on-the-job training and no prior experience required.
Viterra human resources manager Alyson Gilbey said the harvest presented an excellent opportunity for people of all ages and from all walks of life to earn good money and learn new skills.
“Harvest enables people to upskill or gain new work experience, make friends and earn money in a short space of time, with good hourly rates. There is also potential to develop a career and stay in an ongoing role,” Ms Gilbey said.
“Anyone can apply, with no need for prior experience. We give on-the-job training and development to ensure employees have the skills and support they need to take on a wide range of roles.”
Ms Gilbey said the harvest would be relying on a diverse group of people this year as the number of people travelling interstate continued to be impacted by COVID.
“The work available with Viterra is a great fit for a people looking for work experience, or those between jobs seeking short-term opportunities,” she said.
“We get a lot of applications from people of all ages and backgrounds including semi-retirees travelling throughout the state.”
CBH recruits in the west
In Western Australia the CBH Group has opened applications for harvest casual workers.
The grower-owned co-operative is a major employer in regional grain growing regions, and each year hires about 1800 seasonal workers to help service WA grain growers who deliver grain to CBH’s receival sites during harvest.
With positions available at a number of sites across WA’s wheatbelt, from as far north as Binnu, down to Albany in the south west and across to Beaumont, east of Esperance, working as a CBH harvest casual provides a great opportunity for people living in the Perth metro area to explore, live, and work in regional WA for a short period of time.
Depending on the weather conditions, the harvest season usually commences in October and generally lasts up to six weeks.
CBH chief people officer Kelly McKenzie said this year’s recruitment process had started a month earlier than usual to encourage people living both regionally and in the Perth metro to apply.
“Given the labour shortages currently being experienced across the state, our international border being closed to working holiday makers, combined with the potential for a larger than average harvest this season, we have opened the applications earlier,” she said.
“We’re encouraging people from all backgrounds and experience levels who want to earn decent money while having fun living and working in beautiful regional WA to apply.
“Whether you’re an experienced casual who has worked previous seasons, a student who is looking to make decent wages during your semester break, or a traveller looking for casual work, we strongly encourage you to consider joining the CBH team this harvest.”
Harvest casual roles available at CBH include receival point operators at country sites, plant operators at regional ports and grain technicians at Metro Grain Centre in Forrestfield.
All harvest casuals are provided with full training to ensure that they can help WA growers safely deliver their crop, and CBH provides free basic accommodation for the harvest either at the receival sites or close by.
The number of places available and commencement dates are dependent on a range of factors including seasonal conditions and the expected crop size.
Recruitment will continue through to August or until all locations have the enough staff to safely bring in this year’s grain harvest.
GrainCorp expands capacity
Eastern grain handler GrainCorp is recruiting over 3000 casual workers this year, offering jobs that include general labouring, grain sampling, weighbridge operations and laboratory support, and providing all the training that is needed.
Harvest casual work commences around late September in Central Queensland; mid-October in southern Queensland and northern NSW; and late October to early November in southern NSW and Victoria.
At the same time, GrainCorp plans to build one million tonnes of new storage capacity at several sites ahead of the forthcoming harvest.
Following last year’s bumper crop where more than 60 GrainCorp sites broke all-time receival records, the agribusiness is expanding its regional network, which stretches across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
GrainCorp managing director and chief executive officer Robert Spurway said planning had started developing before last year’s harvest finished.
“Planning has been well underway for some time now and the works will focus on boosting our capacity in major cropping regions across NSW and Victoria in particular,” he said.
“We’ll build extra storage across the central and northern regions of NSW and across the north-east region of Victoria.
“On top of the new storage, we are also looking at re-opening some sites to accommodate the anticipated demand, and we have a maintenance plan in place to get these sites back into full operation.
“We are currently working through approval processes with several local government authorities and we look forward to providing growers with specific site details as soon as possible.”
High production forecast
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) estimates over 55 million tonnes (Mt) of grain was produced across Australia from the 2020/21 winter harvest, with just under 30Mt produced on the east coast.
Mr Spurway said the company was working around the clock to move as much leftover grain from that intake as possible before the new season crop was ready.
“Growers are driving past their local sites and noticing we’re still carrying grain from last harvest, which is typical after a large production year,” he said.
Our supply chain is running full tilt, with 3000 truckloads and over 50 trains being loaded out of the network each week to move that grain.
“The new storage will take some pressure off these sites, and we will be operating a large fleet of trains over harvest to continue to make space as deliveries roll in.”
The June 2021 ABARES crop report is forecasting 46.8Mt production across Australia for the 2021/22 winter crop, with over 22Mt of that on the east coast.
GrainCorp’s network has taken in approximately 16Mt from growers last harvest (2020/21), eclipsing the company’s previous bumper crop season in 2016/17, where 15Mt was delivered.
Mr Spurway said he is cautiously optimistic for growers as they draw closer to the 2021/22 harvest, with sites in Central Queensland expecting to receive grain from September.
“There is still plenty of weather to come between now and harvest but I certainly wish all of our growers the best of luck with the season ahead, and we’re looking forward to welcoming you back on site for another exciting year.”
Sources: Viterra, CBH, GrainCorp