SA retains cease-harvest threshold: CFS

Grain Central, August 30, 2023

Harvesting in South Australia. Photo: Shane Gale, GPSA

THE South Australian Government, the SA Country Fire Service and Grain Producers SA have agreed the Grain Harvest Code of Practice 2023-24 season cease=harvest threshold will remain unchanged from the previous year. 

Yesterday, the CFS said the existing Grain Harvest Code of Practice will remain unchanged for the 2023-24 harvesting season and the farming community will continue to use the Grass Fire Danger Index (GFDI) measurement, and a cease-harvest threshold of GFDI 35.  

CFS and GPSA will continue to meet regularly throughout the upcoming Fire Danger Season, so that regular engagement can occur to monitor and evaluate the impact of the code on farmers, and to progress conversations through a working group with an independent chair. 

GPSA chief executive officer Brad Perry said the organisation welcomes the “commonsense decision” from SA Emergency Services Minister Joe Szakacs and the CFS to continue lived practice this harvest of GFDI 35 at two metres.

“The overwhelming feedback from grain producers is that they measure at 2m unconverted and having been doing so since the introduction of the Grain Harvest Code,” Mr Perry said.

“It’s important the CFS continues to listen to grain producers, many whom are also CFS volunteers.”

CFS chief officer Brett Loughlin AFSM said the CFS was committed to continuing to work with the GPSA.
“I firmly believe our ongoing dialogue, in particular throughout and post the coming Fire Danger Season, will position us well to refine the Grain Harvest Code of Practice,” Mr Loughlin said. 
“We acknowledge there are varying practices as well as capability in use across our farming districts for the collection of data used to calculate and apply the GFDI. 
“At the end of the Fire Danger Season we will debrief together, so that the entirety of the harvest period can be evaluated, and lessons learned be applied in years to come. 
Following the implementation of the Australian Fire Danger Rating System in September 2022, the GFDI measurement in South Australia was superseded by the Fire Behaviour Index (FBI). 
Throughout the 2022-2023 grain harvest season, however, industry raised concerns that calculations for the new FBI 40 were too complex and not equivalent to the previous GFDI 35 when implementing the ‘cease harvest’ threshold. 
Mr Szakacs said there had already been significant consultation with fire services and the harvesting community over the Grain Harvest Code of Practice, which would continue. 
“I thank the CFS and GPSA for the constructive approach that has been taken to managing harvesting safety ahead of the upcoming summer,” Mr Szakacs said. 
“I look forward to the continuation of this ongoing work and dialogue, with a focus on achieving positive outcomes for both the harvest season and community safety.” 

Source: South Australian Country Fire Service, GPSA

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