The horticulture industry is urging the Federal Government to give them the confidence they need to plant the next crop by extending visas of seasonal fruit, vegetable and nut pickers who are already in the country.
The National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council and the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) are united in calling on government to solve this critical issue for growers.
"Horticulture growers across the country employ local and overseas workers and require certainty around visa arrangements to know if their business can continue," NFF President Fiona Simson said.
"Fruit and vegetables are perishable products and must be picked pending seasonal conditions and this means it’s crucial that growers have access to a sufficient labour pool.
"We are asking the Government to allow foreign workers currently employed in horticulture to continue to work even if their visa is coming to an end.
"We also need assurances that businesses can move harvest labour from one location to another, including interstate, in a safe and practical way that helps prevent the spread of COVID-19."
"Growers are doing their upmost to ensure their produce continues to reach Australian consumers by implementing safe measures in their workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ms Simson said without these workers, fresh produce would remain unpicked and growers throughout Australia would likely reduce plantings, which could also see locals who are permanently employed on farms, lose their jobs.
"The industry applauds federal and state governments for recognising agricuture and horticulture as essential services.
"It is now up to the Federal Government to allow foreign workers to legally stay in the country, so growers can continue to provide the produce that is so critical to Australian consumers," Ms Simson said.