WA farmers favour farm workers

Headshot of Jenne Brammer
Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
Email Jenne Brammer
The West logo

WA farmers are more likely than their peers in other States to boost labour resources over the next year, according to new research issued by the Commonwealth Bank.

The Commonwealth Bank's bi-annual Agri Insights survey, shows 9 per cent of WA farmers intend to employ more people over the next 12 months, almost twice the national average of 5 per cent.

But even though the mining boom continues to contract, only 22 per cent of WA farmers are noting an increase in labour availability.

Commonwealth Bank's general manager regional and agribusiness banking for WA, Natasha Greenwood, said although most farmers in the State were not seeing a large increase in labour availability as the mining boom wound down, this was likely to change.

"The economy is in transition and agriculture will certainly absorb more employees as mining jobs become scarcer," she said.

Ms Greenwood said WA farmers were looking for employees with a particular skill set.

"These skill sets are particularly around machinery operation (23 per cent), machinery maintenance (16 per cent) and animal husbandry (19 per cent)," she said.

"If we think about WA's transitioning economy, many of those skill sets sit very nicely with employees or workers coming out of the mining sector. They have good experience in these areas."

Ms Greenwood said WA farmers also intended to invest more in plant and equipment than farmers in other States. She said 25 per cent of WA farmers intended to increase investment in this segment compared to 20 per cent nationally.

The main focus areas for WA plant and equipment investment over the next year will be harvesters (17 per cent), sprayers (14 per cent) and tractors (19 per cent).

Research also found WA farmers were ready for a high-tech future, with 26 per cent expecting to see robotic tractors, while 19 per cent anticipated more drones and 15 per cent said there would be more GPS auto steer and GPS mapping.

"WA farmers are very forward-thinking in terms of seeing tech as changing the way they do business in the future," Ms Greenwood said.

She said the positive intentions expressed in the survey were underpinned by sound conditions across the State, with the beef sector particularly strong.

Nationally, 13 per cent of beef producers plan to expand operations in the year ahead.

"Most primary production areas across the State are experiencing good seasons and it's really encouraging to see strong investment intentions from WA farmers. The agriculture sector is maintaining its positive outlook."

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails