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Grain Producers Australia thanks and acknowledges the strong support given to farmers and rural communities by former ADF members, to help overcome labour shortages and deliver a bumper grains harvest that’s underway on the East Coast.

GPA Chair and Western Australian farmer, Barry Large, said Sean ‘Spud’ Murphy typifies the attitude of retired and former ADF servicemen and women who’ve answered the call-up to do their bit and help ease pressure on grain farms throughout Australia.

In August, Operation Grain Harvest Assist was launched by former ADF volunteers and GPA’s State Members to connect former ADF personnel, via social media, with farmers needing workers to deliver what’s expected to be a near record return, forecast at up to 55 million tonnes.

Sean said he saw the Operation’s Facebook page and wrote a post, expressing his interest in working on a grain farm. He’s currently on long-service leave from his normal job with the Victorian prison services and the 49-year-old Victorian served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1988 to 1995.

“I answered the call up many years ago to serve my country and thought, ‘why not do it again’ – this time to help out our farmers who’ve been struggling to find workers due to COVID-19,” he said.

Sean said after receiving many positive responses to his Facebook post, he chose to go and work on Phill and Michelle Eulenstein’s farm, ‘Boola’, that’s located about 65kms north of Moree in NSW.

He’s been living and working on the property for more than a month, performing various tasks such as machinery maintenance, ahead of harvest starting. The 3300 hectares farm produces mostly wheat and barley, but also some chickpeas and sunflowers.

Sean said he’d never driven a semi-trailer or a large truck before, but has been receiving on-farm training and will be mostly driving a chaser bin during harvest over the next few weeks.

He said it wasn’t the income which motivated him to travel north from Victoria on the farming mission, but knowing he’s supporting farmers to get the job done, at a critical time.

“We’re expecting to work pretty hard during harvest over the next month or so but it’s all worth it. Phill and Michelle have been great hosts and the living conditions on-farm are great, with comfortable accommodation and all meals provided. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

Mr Large said Australian farmers were extremely grateful for the support for former ADF members, and team of volunteers led by retired Royal Australian Armoured Corps Lt. Colonel, Garry Spencer AM, who’ve been running Operation Grain Harvest Assist working with GPA and our State Farming Members such as WAFarmers, AgForce and NSWFarmers.

Pic: Sean Murphy and Phill Eulenstein.


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