The Australian vegetable industry is calling for tougher enforcement to be applied to farm labour hire companies, amid concerns both workers and growers are being unfairly treated by some dodgy operators, at a meeting of national, state and regional grower organisations at a meeting in Cairns.

The Australian vegetable industry has backed the call for urgent action and tougher enforcement of regulations to prevent rogue operators taking advantage of both farmers and workers, during a meeting held at the same time as the 2014 AUSVEG National Convention Trade Show and Awards for excellence.

“Recent reports of some farm labour hire companies behaving in a highly- questionable manner have greatly concerned members of the Australian vegetable industry,” said AUSVEG CEO, Richard Mulcahy.

“The behaviour of theses rogue elements has the potential to tarnish not only those labour hire companies that are doing the right thing, but seriously affect honest and unsuspecting growers as well.”

“Labour costs and the securing of reliable and consistent workforces are key issues facing many growers, and many have come to rely on backpacker labour.”

“If the backpacker workers, and other farm workers, are being mistreated or underpaid by unscrupulous companies then both the workers and the growers lose, and the industry is worse off.”

Mr Mulcahy said he had held preliminary discussions with government around the issue of better regulating labour hire companies and would seek to push harder on the issue in coming weeks.

“If workable solutions to these issues are to be found then it is vital that those companies which are doing the wrong thing are brought to heel, through tougher enforcement of regulations.”

“We are eager to work closely with government to ensure that growers and their workers are not worse off as a result of questionable farm labour companies, and will be seeking meetings with the relevant ministers and interested parties.”

“With the industry united on this issue, I am hopeful we can achieve a positive outcome.”

Attendees to the meeting included AUSVEG, Growcom, Vegetable Growers Association of Victoria, Vegetables WA, Seed Potatoes Victoria, New South Wales Farmers Association, Bowen Gumlu Growers Association, Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers and AUSVEG SA.

MEDIA CONTACT: William Churchill, Public affairs manager, AUSVEG
Ph: (03) 9882 0277, Mob: 0411 166 748, Email: