State border restrictions impact harvest of winter crops


By Sophie Johnson

New South Wales and Queensland farmers are preparing for a successful winter grain crop after seven years of drought, however state border restrictions are creating challenges.

The most successful wheat crop in seven years is currently being harvested and distributed across NSW and QLD.

The most successful wheat crop in seven years is currently being harvested and distributed across NSW and QLD. Credit: Sophie Johnson

Farmers in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales are about to begin harvesting a big winter crop of grain including wheat, cotton, sorghum, barley and chickpeas.

And with an Agricultural Essential Services Permit, trucks can move commodities and livestock between borders with minimal problems, according to Peter Healy from Yarranbrook Feedlot.

“It has not been a drama at all for actual trucks or bulk commodities or cattle, those trucks flow through easily, but then I suppose the questionable one will be, how do the fellows go who are contract harvesters?,” he said.

Mr Healy says agribusiness and harvest workers are not exempt from border restrictions.

“The personal who do the consultant work to jump the border is quite a moving target.”

Matthew Madden is the chair of NSW Farmers Grains committee, and runs “Fairfield” in Moree, currently harvesting chickpeas.

He says usual employment operations, such as hiring backpackers, have been impacted with border restrictions.

“Operators from overseas come here every year, they’re pre-organised. Young farmers come here for the experience, and they can’t get here because of the border restrictions, so that’s put a significant gap in some people’s operations,” he said.

Despite challenges in terms of employees being able to move between borders to access work and clients, grain trader Steve Sloss of WW Agri is hopeful that this crop will be the biggest seen in years.

“For many producers in New South Wales this is going to be the first big crop they’ve had in six or seven years. The flow of money into some regional areas is going to be considerably better than what it’s been for the last six or seven years should the crop all come off in line with current expectations,” he said.

If he is right, then despite the state border challenges, the next few months are looking better than the last few years for farming and agriculture.