SE border contractor hopes for smooth run

Binnum hay contractor welcomes moves for cross border freedom for ag

Coronavirus
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Binnum contractor Jeremy Boddington hopes a national ag workers code can give a more common sense approach to essential ag travel across borders.

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CRUNCH TIME: Binnum Farm Enterprises hay contractor Jeremy Boddington is hopeful a national ag worker movement code could minimise disruptions to his work this spring.

CRUNCH TIME: Binnum Farm Enterprises hay contractor Jeremy Boddington is hopeful a national ag worker movement code could minimise disruptions to his work this spring.

About half of South East ag contractor Jeremy Boddington's business is on the Vic side of SA-Vic border and while he has been able to delay interstate fencing jobs, he says it is nearly crunch time to work out his hay contracting schedule.

The re-instatement of the cross border zone will enable him and his staff to service about half of their Vic clients, as long as they have weekly COVID tests, but the remaining half further into the Vic Wimmera is more uncertain.

Discussion on the national ag workers code has given Mr Boddington hope of a more common sense approach to ag travel across borders.

RELATED:Five states give ag workers cross border freedom, key state sits out

"Primary production is at the forefront of the country and it all has a flow-on effect - in our case if we can't help make the fodder to feed the animals to get the red meat to the supermarkets, everything stops," he said.

Aside from the potential financial hit to Binnum Farm Enterprises, he says he would not leave his clients of the past 12 years near Dimboola, Vic, and Warracknabeal, Vic, to try and find a Vic baling contractor.

RELATED: SA ag calls for special cross border permit

"They are already fully booked and there is a high chance of above-average rainfall so farmers are even more anxious about getting it in the bale this year," he said.

He acknowledges he is lucky compared with some in regional Vic whose lives have been thrown into turmoil, but says the worst case scenario of quarantining for 14 days on his return to SA would have a big impact on his other SA customers and his ability to work on his farms.

"The other problem is you are over there (in Vic) and it rains and you are caught for a week - what do you do? You just have to stay there," he said.

He hopes more lenient cross-border travel can be considered, especially as he is working alone in an area with low COVID-19 risk.

Mr Boddington says if some "black and white" guidelines could be agreed upon by the states there would also be the potential to take on new acreage in NSW.

"There is that much hay on in NSW and not enough contractors," he said.

"It is a big step for us to be able to get machines to NSW but there is an opportunity there which would help fill the 30 per cent drop in lamb prices and drop in wool prices."

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