The COVID-19 situation has continued to impact all Australians and the fresh produce industry.

AUSVEG has continued to engage with all levels of government including a recent update from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud which was positive.

Essential Services
As per this press release from Minister Littleproud (excerpt below), the Commonwealth has recognised agriculture and supply as essential services.

“As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, food production and supply is an essential service.
“Feeding our nation is an essential service.
“That means State-imposed border shutdowns will not affect agricultural supply chains.
“The trucks carrying food and produce will get through to the shops.
“Feed, hay, fertilizer and other agriculture products will continue being delivered to farms.”

Agriculture workers will also be able to cross state borders with a ‘letter of employment’ or such from their employer.

The federal government is continuing to work with states aiming for consistency across all state borders.

Visa Extensions
AUSVEG understands that Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Minister Littleproud are continuing to talk about various options. It is hoped that there will be an announcement by the end of the week.

There are currently more than 140,000 backpackers in the country, of which 30 per cent are currently working in agriculture. There are another 8,000 people under the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme.

AUSVEG, along with a range of horticulture bodies, have requested extensions for backpackers, who are currently working in agriculture and are willing and able to continue working in agriculture, for at least 12 months.

Information from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment was sent to Approved Employers last night in regards to moving workers from the SWP and PLS onto bridging visas. That information can also be found here.

Crossing State Borders
A range of restrictions are being imposed on borders between states and territories.

The National Farmers Federation is maintaining the latest information on border measures, including relevant paperwork, on FarmHub.

Click here to take a look.

Stimulus Packages
There has been now been two lots of Stimulus Packages from the Federal Government, as well as various state and territory assistance and business assistance.

Growers are encouraged to head to the Farmhub website for all the latest and up to date information for their business relating to COVID-19.

See here for more information.

Coronavirus workplace support
AUSVEG has been engaged with HR Global Solutions in Melbourne who have offered some free advice to AUSVEG members relating to the Coronavirus and Australian Workplace Laws, as well as Candidate Pre-Screening and Pandemic Recruitment Contingency Plan.

This document has been provided by HRGS specifically for AUSVEG members and if members need further advice they should contact HRGS direct.

Other helpful links

Complete the AUSVEG Grower Survey now!
AUSVEG has launched its 2020 AUSVEG Grower Survey and is calling for your feedback to help guide its agenda for this year.

This is your chance to have your say on significant issues such as your Research and Development levy and help set the priorities for AUSVEG’s advocacy agenda.

Click here to complete the AUVEG Grower Survey