Hay processor Gilmac has begun production and distribution at its new St Arnaud facility this week, bringing eight new full time jobs to the town.
Site manager Carl Leach has urged oat and hay growers in the Grampians and Wimmera to get in touch early in their cropping plans.
"The sooner they get in touch, the more likelihood there is of getting a contract," he said.
"There are a lot of people trying to get into the oat and hay market, and with domestic demand dropping off, I think hay is a good rotation in anyone's paddock plans.
"We had planned to start earlier to be honest, but the pandemic slowed us down. Ideally we would have been going from the first quarter of this year, but there were delays in terms of getting the parts required to site.
"We only started earthworks last August, so a 12-month turnaround is still pretty good."
Mr Leach said the number of employees at the Charlton-St Arnaud Road site would rise to 15 when it moved to 24/7 production.
"That will probably happen next year," he said.
"Japan, Korea and Taiwan are our main markets and a little bit in China. The market has softened at the moment.
"We will be starting by doing 12-hour days Monday to Friday. Once the staff get trained up and we have confidence in the press, we will go to 24/5."
The company has another processing site at Goornong, near Bendigo. Mr Leach said adding a site at St Arnaud, in an area it received a lot of product from, would help it spread the workload.
"It increases options for local growers as well," he said.
At Northern Grampians Shire Council's meeting on Monday afternoon, councillor Tony Driscoll said all the employees at the new multi-million dollar site lived in the area.
"They have supported our local businesses very well," he said. "In times like this, not everything is negative."
Councillor Merrilee Reid also welcomed the company's milestone.
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