Where are farmers?

23 Oct, 2007 09:00 PM
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THERE have been no responses to CBH’s month-long employment scheme to get drought-struck farmers to staff its Metro Grain Centre in Perth’s south west suburbs.

The flexible strategy had been designed to help CBH and those farmers hit hard by compounding drought to meet the demands of the challenging months ahead at harvest.

CBH is rapidly expanding its capacity to load containers at its Forrestfield plant and wants to use farmers to manage the loading facilities by giving them the flexibility of returning to and from their properties in the event of an emergency.

While the offer is open to anyone, CBH has mainly targeted farmers who have been hit hard by the second drought in succession and who need an alternative revenue source to boost their falling income.

However, despite talk of there being more than 100 farmers on the verge of walking off the land, and others facing possible ruin after over-committing grain on their forward contracts, on Monday none had put up their hand to participate in the scheme.

CBH considers the scheme would be ideal for farmers given their experience with machinery, abilities to adapt rapidly to changing environments and their capacities to respond to challenges.

The scheme also has a flexible roster enabling growers to return to their properties with little or no notice so they can deal with any emergencies or critical tasks.

The roster allows allocated days to be swapped with another farmer, enabling the grower with responsibilities to go home.

The roster is four days on, four off, with 12-hour shifts offering a competitive weekly salary of about $1400, plus superannuation.

CBH senior supply chain manager David Fienberg said he had no idea why farmers, especially those in the north eastern Wheatbelt, had not taken advantage of the opportunity to work at the centre.

Mr Fienberg said the scheme had been advertised at pre-harvest bin meetings during the past month and was mainly targeted at those farmers in the north of WA who had suffered production failure and needed more than government assistance.

He said the scheme had the support of local farming organisations and CBH director Rod Madden, but despite that vote of confidence there had been no response.

“We are offering an uncomplicated and flexible roster that gives farmers the ability to earn some extra dollars and return to their farms to manage them if and when the need arises,” Mr Fienberg said.

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