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Western Australia launches Operation Grain Harvest with former defense personnel


The development not only increases opportunities for former defense personnel but also goes to boost much need agricultural output.

Western Australia launches Operation Grain Harvest with former defense personnel
Labor shortages have long been a problem in agriculture. However, one initiative aims to increase the staffing pool and increase employment opportunities for a deserving group of Australians.

Before last year's harvest, Western Australia launched Operation Grain Harvest Assist. Longerenong College in Victoria is now piloting it, with help from CNH Industrial brand Case IH and one of the company's dealers, O'Connors.

Last month, 18 former military personnel learned about the grains industry and farm machinery operation. They are now looking for ways to help farming businesses during the busy harvest season.

O'Connors' Executive Senior Sales Manager, David Hair, stated that they were approached by farmer and returned service member Ian Hastings, as well as Royal Australian Armored Corps officer Lt-Col Garry Spencer AM. Ian and Garry had already discussed how to launch Operation Grain Harvest Assist through a major agricultural training institution.

For many years, O'Connors and Case IH have coordinated their apprentice training through Longerenong College. So it was an easy decision to join this exciting initiative.

“This program helps achieve two big objectives: offering employment opportunities for returned service people and addressing the considerable labor shortfalls we have across the grain-growing industry,” David said.

“Through undergoing this training, the participants could undertake everything from operating harvesters and driving tractors with chaser bins, to unloading grain trucks and even working in grain-handling facilities. This initiative fulfills two critical needs and we’re proud to have been involved in it and to meet this amazing group of individuals who have done so much for their country during their many years of service.”

The college held an intensive training week last month. Indoors, it entailed machinery theory, broad-acre farm production, and combine simulator training. Participants got up close and personal with the two Case IH Axial-Flow combines used at Longerenong. They also went to two local farms.

David stated that meeting the 18 programme participants had been a pleasure for his team. They have served in the Australian defense forces for a total of 450 years. And many of them had risen to the pinnacle of their respective professions.

“They’re now looking for new challenges and it’s been so rewarding for us to introduce them to the many opportunities within the agriculture sector, and hopefully connect them with local farmers who can use all the help they can get, particularly during the looming harvest season,” said David.

Case IH was the program's primary sponsor, with contributions from O'Connors' dealerships, MacDon Australia, Muddy River Agricultural, and Waringa Enterprises. Pete McCann, the company's General Manager, said it was exciting to see the company's achievements thus far and the potential for the agriculture industry in the future.

“Operation Grain Harvest Assist helps provide new paths for our returned service men and women, to whom our nation owes so much, and it’s also important to Case IH to support an initiative that can help Australian farmers meet their labor needs and increase the staffing pool for the agriculture sector, which, like so many industries at present, is struggling to find the number of workers it needs,” said Pete.

David stated that the program's goal is to continue at Longerenong College. Then, in the coming years, expand even more.