Food security requires a national ag workers code 


The nation’s ongoing certainty of food supply will depend on a national agricultural workers code being approved at the National Cabinet meeting tomorrow. 

NSW Farmers says the harvesting of grain and horticultural crops is being jeopardized by the restricted movement of agricultural workers and contractors across state borders. 

“We expect the National Cabinet to deliver a single message with clear guidance to farmers and the agriculture supply chain so they can focus on what they do best – feeding their fellow Australians,” NSW Farmers President James Jackson said. 

“The agriculture sector needs clear direction from all State and Territory First Ministers about what will be required to enable the safe movement of agricultural workers.  We need harmonisation of permit approvals for all borders and support a mandated set of requirements.”

“It is also important that the Code acknowledges the different environment for agriculture where often workers are outdoors, able to self-isolate while not working and generally are in settings where social distancing is practiced.”

“We are not talking about mass movement of the population – we are talking about critical and essential movements for those skilled workers on which agriculture depends, particularly as we move into the harvest period.”

Mr Jackson said the agriculture sector recognised the number one priority of governments must be to maintain the health of Australians and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Farmers know that COVID Safe workplaces are critical to the ongoing operation of their business – security of our food supply depends on our farmers being vigilant.”

Mr Jackson said NSW Farmers’ members have already indicated their support for a range of requirements that will aid the safe movement of agricultural workers and suppliers, including adhering to a mandatory COVID Safe Plan, appropriate use of PPE,  social distancing, committing to self-isolation when not working, and recording travel and local movements.

Date: Thursday, 3 September 2020
Media Contact:  Michael Burt  | 0428 228 988 | burtm@nswfarmers.org.au