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Bulk handlers demand harvest mass management scheme

Reaching limits: Unloading at the GrainCorp site at Berry Bank.
Reaching limits: Unloading at the GrainCorp site at Berry Bank. Weekly Times

A MAJOR bulk  handler claims it is in a perilous legal situation without a harvest mass management scheme in Victoria.  

South Australia, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia all have harvest mass management programs, which allows grain trucks being loaded on farm a tolerance over their maximum load limits.  

These tolerances vary from 5-10 per cent between states, and mean growers who have problems estimating the weight of grain loaded on farm have some leeway when delivering to bulk handlers.  

However there is no scheme in Victoria, and GrainCorp Victorian regional manager Peter Johnston said under the chain of responsibility it put them in a challenging situation.

  "Under current legislation we are told we should not tip (any) overloaded trucks off at our sites," he said   "But we have a chain of responsibility not to let trucks, which are overloaded, back on the road.

  "It's a difficult one from a legal stand point, we are accepting a degree of risk if we unload (trucks which exceed their weight limit.)"  

He said currently the major bulk handlers that operated in Victoria, including Emerald Grain, Cargill and Viterra, all have similar voluntary agreements to allow trucks that exceed its mass limit to unload.

  However they also have a program in place that acts as a disincentive to growers overloading their trucks.

  If a grain truck that goes to a GrainCorp site is more than 5 per cent over its limit, any net tonnes over this threshold are kept by the company in a trust for 21 days.

  After which time the grower can either pick up these excess tonnes, or donate them to a designated charity.  

In about 95 per cent of cases growers chose to do the latter, Mr Johnston said.

  "We have made sure there is no incentive to overload a truck," Mr Johnston said.

  However he said without a legislated harvest mass management scheme, bulk handlers were not legally required to put in place such disincentives, and he wanted the Victorian Government to introduce a scheme.

  "We have made joint presentations to both VicRoads, and the (relevant) minister to support this scheme, so its legislated rather than individual companies having different programs," he said.

"Farmers these days are professional and they are not overloading trucks intentionally, but there needs to be a tolerance for trucks loaded on farm over harvest."

Topics:  agriculture grain rural victoria

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