Businesses struggle to keep employees

Failed crops affect local businesses and entire communities

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Delta Ag Regional Network Manager, James Nott with Weddin Shire Mayor, Mark Liebich, Agronomist Jenna Brewis, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and Lachlan Fertiliser's, Craig Bembrick.

Delta Ag Regional Network Manager, James Nott with Weddin Shire Mayor, Mark Liebich, Agronomist Jenna Brewis, Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack and Lachlan Fertiliser's, Craig Bembrick.

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Deni and Leeton mayors speak out after SunRice cuts

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Retaining staff during the drought has become difficult for everyone, from major international companies like SunRice to individual farm businesses.

The Delta Ag-owned Lachlan Fertilizers is among Grenfell's largest employers, with 12 people on the pay roll.

With many crops failing in the area, it has been very quiet for the business, but Delta Ag regional network manager, James Nott, said the last thing they wanted to do was let someone go.

"It makes a massive difference to small communities, you take one family out of a small town and the knock-on effects for the schools, etcetera, are huge," Mr Nott said.

He said they have been focusing on doing training, maintenance and working on business processes.

"We're just trying to get our people and clients together for workshops so when it does break we're all ready to go, it helps to get everyone focused on opportunities ahead and not just on the season we are having," Mr Nott said.

During a recent visit from Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, Mr Nott suggested the farm management deposits be raised from the maximum of $800,000 to give farmers a better chance to put in a cropping program next season.

Mayors ask government to step up after SunRice job cuts 

Meanwhile, Leeton and Deniliquin were reeling from a further 32 SunRice job cuts on top of the 100 announced at the end of last year.

SunRice chief executive officer, Rob Gordon said: "unfortunately the drought, low general security water allocations and high temporary water prices continue to negatively impact annual irrigated industries, including the rice industry, in the Riverina region of NSW."

"We know the knock-on effects of these direct economic benefits are significant in the local communities within which we operate in the Riverina."

Deniliquin Mayor Cr Norm Brennan said he was surprised it wasn't more jobs on the cutting block this time round.

"I knew further cuts would be inevitable and in some ways I'm pleased it's only 32 jobs," Mr Brennan said.

"It has an impact across the board, because they spend money in town, traders get affected, they could leave town affecting school numbers, it just impacts across the whole community."

Cr Brennan blames the job losses on the Murray Darling Basin Plan's effect on irrigation in the Riverina.

"I think the federal government needs to show leadership and get the states together to get a better balanced plan," Cr Brennan said.

Mayor of Leeton Shire Council, Cr Paul Maytom said he hoped some people who had been made redundant from the Leeton mill could find work in other areas of SunRice.

"I understand from SunRice that there may be other opportunities that arise through the expansion of other areas of their business," Cr Maytom said.

He said his biggest concerns for his shire were drought and the rising water prices that were stopping farmers from putting in and finishing crops.

"Whenever the farmers aren't getting crops off that has a huge impact on employment and our local economy," Mr Maytom said.

"I believe the government should have an obligation to look at where we are currently sitting, where the future lies and put something in place to ensure we retain our industries, like SunRice that have been the backbone of our region for decades.

"Drought assistance is short term in my eyes, they need to understand it's not just the farmers, it's the workers and their families."

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