Bumper harvest causes labour shortage worry

Labour concerns loom for bumper harvest

Cropping
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Accessing skilled employees will be a challenge this year with the travel restrictions.

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As expectations for the NSW 2020 winter crop climb, concerns are turning to possible labour shortages during harvest.

Specifically, how the industry will fill expected shortages of skilled employees that have emerged with COVID-19.

Farmers are becoming increasingly reliant on casual labour to drive headers, chaser bins and other machinery during grain harvesting, hastened by the trend to larger machinery.

Accessing skilled employees will be a challenge this year with the travel restrictions.

Grain storage business are also worried if they will be able to attract the normal influx summer casuals they rely on for the receival of grain into local storages.

Labour shortages could prove costly for farmers if harvest delays lead to quality downgrades.

A continuation of the current wetter than normal weather patterns into October would expose wheat farmers to quality downgrades in a year where the world is awash with feed grains.

It's just another factor that must be balanced in 2020.

Widespread rain across parts of NSW, parts of Queensland and Victoria has consolidated the chance of a well above average national winter crop in 2020. WA also had soaking rain.

Private analysts are predicting the national wheat crop of 26 to 28 million tonnes.

Some are saying it could top 30 million tonnes with above average spring rainfall. Barley and canola production estimates are also climbing.

Australian grain markets tumbled last week after widespread rain across most states coupled with sharp declines in international markets.

Farmer selling on the back of the improving weather outlook added to the downward pressure on prices. Traders reported strong farmer selling in old and new crop wheat and barley.

ASX east coast wheat futures for delivery in January 2020 fell $13 to $282 a tonne. New season's barley futures fell $15 to $218.

Old crop APW wheat into Melbourne fell $15/t to $20/t to around $325/t delivered Melbourne.

Benchmark US wheat futures plunged six to seven per cent last week, the largest weekly decline for the year, on improving crop expectations in Russia, Canada as well as Australia.

Black Sea wheat values also softened with the improving global supplies.

The US Department of Agriculture will release its monthly world supply and demand estimates report this week where it is expected to lift production estimates in key production regions around the world.

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