A shortage of workers, mainly due to state and international border closures, is putting Riverina farmers under strain as they prepare for an expected bumper harvest.
Many are worried how they will harvest fields full of crops this season with limited access to workers.
Wagga's Programmed Skilled Workforce is part of a nationwide campaign, Join the Harvest, attracting workers, both skilled and unskilled to help solve farmers' problems.
Area manager Bret Power said more than 400 jobs were available to keep people in employment through to until at least December.
He said he was exploring all avenues to find workers.
"We run this campaign every year but it's definitely been more challenging this year, harvest has specifically been a bit of a challenge for us with border closures, interstate and international," Mr Power said.
"Some of our larger customers are GrainCorp and GrainFlow and we deal with smaller ones from that industry, they come to us to find people to work during the harvest.
"All the farmers are having bumper crops - one farmer in West Wyalong said it's been the most grain he's seen coming in than in decades before.
"There's been an 80 per cent drop in backpackers, that's unprecedented as there's usually about 15 to 20 thousand in the country, but we'd be lucky to have three or four thousand at the moment."
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NSW Farmers grains committee chairperson Justin Everitt said a coordinated effort from governments was required to ensure the season was a success.
"We understand there's a lot of fear and hesitancy around COVID, but this is the second year now that we've had fields chock full of crops and state borders getting in the way of harvest," Mr Everitt said.
"We're not talking about bringing all of Sydney to country Victoria or outback Queensland, this is a relatively small number of regional workers who need to go back and forth across the border to get these crops in on time."
Mr Everitt said commonsense arrangements were needed to avoid a man-made disaster which could unfold across the industry.
Mr Power said many "grey nomads" who regularly worked on the land as they travelled throughout regional areas were notable in their absence in the lead up to the harvesting season.
"It's the most amazing harvest ever we're hearing, but if you don't have the workers it is a huge problem," Mr Power said.
"Some of the grey nomads live within the Riverina and are happy to travel wherever the work is, so if we had another 500 of them, it would be perfect.
"Locals are the bulk of our main focus, before expanding the search to get the fields harvested, but we're also dealing with universities, advertising that we need students to work at the harvest as well, with the downturn due to COVID.
"We've even had a couple of pilots who are locked down on their international flights inquire about work here."
Anyone interested in helping during the harvest season can contact 6932 8500 or visit https://skilledworkforce.programmed.com.au/jointheharvest.
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