Farmers cop it rough, Farmers face silo
Drought-affected farmers in Goyder's south
have been dealt another blow with the closure of
Robertstown's grain silos.
The landholders were last week notified of
the shutdown via an email from grain handling business
Viterra, who own and operate the site.
The silos are just one of 11 across South
Australia that will permanently cease after not being in
operation for over a year.
An additional six sites, operational during last year's
harvest, are also set close.
Other sites in the Mid North region set to
close included Brinkworth and Orroroo, with bunkers at
Eudunda also set to close.
It followed a decision made earlier this year
by Viterra to cart grain to and from the Eyre Peninsula by
truck rather than train.
In a statement to the Barossa Herald, Viterra
operations manager Michael Hill said the decision reflected
a changing environment.
Mr Hill said the closed sites represented
less than two per cent of total receivals over the past five
"To best meet the changing needs of growers,
Viterra's investment is focused on its larger sites where it
can provide the highest level of service to growers," he
"This includes the ability to handle all
truck configurations, segregation options, elevation
capacity, turnaround times, opening hours, infrastructure
Mr Hill said Viterra would continue to invest
in infrastructure and services "to provide most value to
customers safely and sustainably."
However, the announcement was met with
On Thursday, May 30, about 20 farmers from
the area gathered at Robertstown silos site to voice their
opposition to media.
Aaron Niemz spearheaded the afternoon
meeting, alongside his brother Simon, who are both
"It is very frustrating and disappointing
because we have not been consulted; it has just been shut
down immediately and we have not had the chance to voice our
opinion," he said.
The closure of the grain storing facilities
and the bunkers at Eudunda will have a widespread impact.
Farmers from Riverland towns. who use the
site but with reduced capacity, will be forced to cart
A higher volume of trucks on the state's
roads was also highlighted as problematic with farmers
expressing concerns about an already "crumbling regional
Simon Schmidt expressed his concerns about
road safety with more trucks likely to frequent SA's already
crumbling regional road network following the closures.
Mr Schmidt has land at World's End and in
Robertstown and used both nearby sites when operational.
He said he would likely have to cart two
loads a day to Roseworthy, over an hour away, with the
Eudunda silos operating at reduced capacity.
"The big issue is we do not have an option to
cart to because they are closing down the Eudunda bunkers,"
Mr Schmidt said.
"If we do not cart the grain in, we cannot
take it to Eudunda because Eudunda are going to fill up
because they do not have an outlet when they have a surplus
of grain anymore.
"They are forcing us to drive to Roseworthy
which is a long distance, plus operating our headers,
running our farms. It does not matter who is carting, there
is going to be more trucks on the road.
"Viterra have to be held accountable for this
because what happens when someone is killed?"
The cost of freight would also have an
impact, according to farmer Patrick Neal.
"It is just not cost effective for us to cart
to Roseworthy just the way the freight rates work out," he
"By the time we get in our truck and take it
to Roseworthy and then we pay freight to get it down to
Roseworthy...it just works out as more overall."
Drought has had a firm grip on the
agricultural land in the southern Goyder region for more
than two years.
Statistics from the Bureau of Meteorology
showed Eudunda had received 49.6 millimeters of rain last
Some of the farmers in attendance on Thursday
described the decision as a "kick in the guts" after their
struggles with drought.
There were also concerns for the long-term
effects on the local economy of the towns with businesses
missing out on potential customers.
Mr Hill said Viterra had communicated the
changes to farmers ahead of this year's harvest to help plan
"Viterra plans to open 67 sites across South
Australia for the 2019/20 harvest (compared to 73 in
2018/19) with no changes to the overall provision of storage
capacity and segregations for the major crops grown in South
Australia," he said.
"We have released our preliminary segregation
plan for the 2019/20 harvest to assist growers with their
Viterra has operated in South Australia for
10 years after it acquired the bulk of the state's grain
storage infrastructure in 2009.
The company was acquired by Glencore
Agriculture in 2012.