VICTORIAN Farmers Federation is calling on the government to invest more into Victoria's regional road and rail infrastructure to cope with increased grain harvests.
This comes as Victoria and New South Wales enjoy a record breaking bumper crop season, with areas like Natimuk seeing its best harvest season.
Victorian Farmers Federation Grains Group president Ashley Fraser said a recent ABARES report forecast this season's harvest to be one of biggest ever seen.
"We are expecting the second largest grain harvest in Victoria's history," Mr Fraser said.
"While this is a fantastic result for growers and our regional economy, it will no doubt put immense pressure on our already strained regional road and rail freight networks as it goes from paddock to market.
"Regional roads continue to crumble and freight trains crawl to port at a huge cost to industry.
"Our freight network is critically under-maintained and urgently needed Murray Basin Rail Project is already two years overdue."
The Murray Basin Rail Project was announced in 2014 as a plan to upgrade and standardise the rail network in North and North-West Victoria, to get harvest produce to ports faster.
The $440 million project ran into funding difficulties late last year, with the Victorian government announcing the original scope of the project underestimated its real cost.
Mr Fraser said investment in rail freight was essential to get trucks off roads and reduce Victoria's future road maintenance and upgrade bill.
"On certain sections of the track, trains have been reduced to a maximum speed of 20km per hour. Time is money and many operators have made the decision to transport produce on our roads," Mr Fraser said.
"This is forcing more trucks onto the roads, with the potential for 10,000 B-double trucks of grain using the road each month.
"We are calling on the government to do the planning now to ensure this year's budget invests big in regional Victorian freight infrastructure and plans for the future."
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Under the Victorian Government's Grain Harvest Management Scheme, from October 2020 to May 2021 trucks transporting grain will be allowed a five per cent concession above the General Mass Limit for vehicles.
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