FRONTLINE agricultural staff will be forced out of Griffith and Hillston two of the most productive areas in the state in a radical shake-up of local farming services.
Agronomist Barry Haskins, who took a redundancy from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) last month and started his own business, has predicted the reshuffle will have a marked effect on services in the area.
In an effort to cut $30 million from its budget, the NSW government will combine three separate agricultural bodies the Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA), Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and sections of DPI to form a new organisation, Local Land Services (LLS).
Mr Haskins revealed frontline positions would be converted to research roles and relocated to Yanco.
The departure of Mr Haskins and Coleambally agronomist Kieran O'Keeffe has left only four face-to-face support workers in the local office.
The effects are already being felt across the district, with many farmers unsure where to turn for advice and guidance.
"The redundancy exit has been great for people such as myself with other job options, but unfortunately does tend to take the best staff away from the department, which will be a big gap to fill under the new structure," Mr Haskins said.
"The lack of private and agribusiness agronomists does mean these cuts add further pressure to farmers.
"The beauty about the DA (district agronomist) positions is that we were able to bring all farmers and agronomists together to deal with industry issues, with no commercial incentives in the background. That is now missing from our region."
All on-the-ground DPI positions will eventually be dissolved, with employees left to apply for new jobs with LLS.
The Area News understands fewer positions will be on offer, which will leave the remaining staff members competing for a place in the organisation.
Mr Haskins said some farmers would inevitably miss out on agronomy services.
"I have reservations about the effectiveness of it (LLS) because of the area that would have to be covered and the broad range of issues that you would assume such an amalgamated position would cover," he said.
"At the DPI in Griffith, we consistently ran field days with 50 to 60 or even up to 200 farmers.
"We did a lot of good work that helped many farming businesses cope through the drought, and I believe strongly we were very successful in getting agronomic information out to farmers.
"I'm not confident that the new system will deliver the same level of service but I hope to be proven wrong."