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SA grain farmers win right to reap

Abbie Tiller

South Australian grain farmers are breathing a sigh of relief in the lead-up to harvest, after an agreement was reached with SA Country Fire Service (CFS) to leave the existing Grass Fire Danger Index (GFDI) unchanged for the 2023/24 harvest.

The cease harvest threshold will remain at GFDI 35 (at 2m), allowing grain farmers to measure wind speed, temperature and relative humidity to calculate the fire danger and cease harvesting when indicative.

The announcement from CFS, followed a prior intervention by Grains Producers SA (GPSA) to delay the roll-out of the National Fire Behaviour Index (FBI), and oppose the CFS preferred option to reduce the GFDI to 40 (at 10m).

According to the GPSA, changes to significantly reduce the cease harvest number would stop grain producers from reaping during conditions that are described by farmers as “excellent harvesting weather”.

GPSA argued that the $4.6 billion grain industry simply would not exist without the ability to harvest during these times.

It further noted that the grains industry had already put additional mitigation practises in place, such as ensuring water and fire fighting equipment was on hand, thanks to the State Government’s Farm Fire Fighting Unit grants and said that any changes to significantly reduce the cease harvest number would undermine a very successful adherence to the Code, of which other Australian states were envious.

“Our farmers and communities are safe, because we have a Code that, while voluntary, sets a proven benchmark,” GPSA Chair, Adrian McCabe said.

“Grain producers in South Australia are some of the most well equipped in the country when it comes to preparing for a fire on-farm.

The Code must be balanced for grain producers to do their job and contribute billions of dollars to the State’s economy, as they do year in, year out.”

CFS Chief Officer Brett Loughlin said the CFS was committed to continuing working with GPSA into the future.

“At the end of the Fire Danger Season we will debrief together, so that the entirety of the harvest period can be evaluated, and lessons learned be applied in years to come.”

Grain Producers Australia through their online training platform, GPA Training, offers online industry based training for the grains industry. One of the courses offered is Fire Safety and Preparedness, for more information click here.


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