Backpackers fill labor void.


Trouble with finding labor for their dairy farm meant Dingee residents Peter and Donna Sexton needed to look outside the square for help.

Reluctantly they decided to give back packer labor a go and since they made that decision they haven’t looked back.

“We had had trouble trying to find Australian workers- initially we weren’t that keen on the idea but we have had three couples come and stay with us now,and they have all been really good,” Peter said.

“Having someone to help work takes the pressure off and we can even watch the kids with their sport on the weekends. Before it was just the two of us and the work load was just getting too much when you are milking 280 cows and calving in both spring and autumn.”

The backpackers stay for around three months and live in the second house on the Sextons farm rent free, in exchange for two milkings a week. They supply their own ABN for any additional work they do.

“The backpackers send in an account every fortnight and I don’t have to worry about the hassle of paying super or withholding tax. It really is a simple and easy way of employing labor.”

For Aislinge Mayo and her partner Claran (Ronno for short) backpackers from the west of Ireland, the arrangement is a win-win situation. They are able to get in and work hard, earn some extra money and extend their visa to spend more time travelling the country.

Aisligne works with the Sexton’s milking and doing odd jobs during the day while Claran works at a dairy farm down the road.

“My dad had a small dairy farm so I know my way around cows, my partner hasn’t been around livestock at all but he manages all right.” Aisligne said.

“I always had it my mind to do some farming work when we travelled, and friends of mine had done it before. The experience is really worth it and you get to see and experience different things. We have been to the footy, the local pub (of course) and I am involved in the local play- we have met so many people. I just love Australia and when we stayed in Sydney I met more Irish people then I knew in Dublin.”

Modernising their irrigation infrastructure through NVIRP and the On Farm Efficiency Program has also helped improve labor issues for the family.

Two thirds of the farm is now serviced by a looped black brute pipeline that delivers 19 Ml per day.

“It is a great system and when you are busy irrigating it is just magic to be able to do it easily,” Peter said.

With a bit of irrigation water around this year Peter has planted a third of his pasture to perennial grasses while two thirds are still annuals.

“One thing we don’t have to worry about this year is water. It’ll be good to be able to farm and not worry about water for once” Donna said.calivil and dingee 012

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