With bumper crops creating a promising outlook for grain producers, the efficient movement of grain will be important over harvest.
The Grain Harvest Management Scheme (GHMS) promotes productivity and safety in grain movement through allowing eligible heavy vehicles to exceed legal mass limits by up to five percent when delivering grains to receivers in participating council areas.
The scheme reduces the number of heavy vehicle movements on regional roads, which in turn promotes safety and aids the management of additional road usage.
Over the 2020 financial year, a total of 1,626 one way trips in NSW were saved using the GHMS - noting the harvest over that period was 20 percent smaller than the previous financial year.
Given the obvious benefits of the scheme, NSW Farmers is disappointed that not all local councils are participating in the GHMS.
A reason commonly cited for this is the potential damage to road surfaces caused by heavier vehicles permitted under the GHMS.
We recognise that not every road in every council may be appropriate for access under the GHMS, but this should not be a reason for non-participation by councils.
Rather than limiting the GHMS, the concerns raised around the scheme should propel action with respect to road improvements.
It is critical that shire councils have certainty of funding to maintain and upgrade regional roads in high grain growing areas.
We acknowledge the funding already committed to infrastructure upgrades through the NSW Fixing Country Roads program, but it is equally important that the recent Commonwealth budget infrastructure commitments deliver critical regional road infrastructure to reduce supply chain costs and improve regional road networks.
2021 crop yields are forecast to be three times that of 2019-2020, and freight volumes are predicted to keep increasing over coming years, potentially reaching 794 million tonnes by 2031.
With more freight to move, productivity building schemes like the GHMS will only grow more important.
- NSW Farmers Association