UP to 30 people have found work on Wimmera farms since a new online program developed by Grain Producers Australia, and funded by the Victorian government, began.
GPA chair Andrew Weidemann says it will be crucial in securing a sufficient work force this harvest, and in future years while COVID-19 keeps international borders shut to workers from overseas.
Mr Weidemann, of Rupanyup, said the free training covered driving machinery, what to expect when on a farm and safety inductions.
"We have had a huge amount of interest in what we've been doing, we've helped anywhere between 500 and 1000 people nationwide into jobs or looking for jobs in the past six weeks," he said. "I think it's 20 to 30 people in the Wimmera at this stage, and we've also placed people into businesses like GrainCorp.
"This is not just for this year either, this is in place for the future: Farmers are looking to have people with some level of understanding coming onto their properties."
Prior to 2020, Mr Weidemann said grain farmers and receival sites relied on backpackers, university students and people coming home to fill labour vacancies.
"In the past, farmers have operated with word of mouth connections overseas to find workers," he said. "When international borders reopen I think there will be a mix of overseas and Australian workers again. I don't think there is any one rule to finding agricultural workers."
New Zealand citizens can travel to the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales as of October 2020. All other international travel to and from Australia is on hold.
Among those undertaking the training are people contracted to airline Qantas that have lost work due to the pandemic. Mr Weidemann said reached out to GPA about retraining the workers several months ago.
"We have had issues around people being able to relocate because of COVID, so housing is part of the equation."
Harvest in the Wimmera traditionally starts at the end of November.
Grain storage and handling network Viterra is reporting its recruiting work to fill roles at its Dooen site is "on track".
Operations Manager Adelaide region, Neil Carr, said in a statement:"We have around 50 seasonal roles this year at Dooen. We have a combination of new and returning employees commencing onsite training, and some completing medicals and onboarding.
"We have been working closely with our buyer customers to provide an efficient service ahead of a busy season of container packing for export, and as a major receival site in the region, we will engage with growers throughout the harvesting season to match our services to their delivery needs."
Farmers looking for workers can sign up at https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/farm-management/emergency-management/coronavirus-covid-19/agriculture-workforce-plan.