We are reaching a critical juncture for farms across the state, with harvest fast approaching and serious restrictions on the movement of harvest workers.
The government has made it crystal clear that it will pursue a strategy of opening up based on vaccination rates, and there is a roadmap that says what will happen at 70 per cent and 80 per cent. While New South Wales hit a significant milestone over the weekend with more than 50 per cent of adults having received their double dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, we are running out of time to get jabs in arms for this harvest.
If we want an end to workforce mobility problems, we need to get vaccinated now. It is incumbent upon everyone to roll up their sleeves and get their jabs so we can give the government the confidence to put these lockdowns behind us.
The rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation has thrown our regions into turmoil; some Local Government Areas have exited lockdown, while others have been locked down for weeks. Others have had a taste of freedom to then be plunged back into lockdown, demonstrating how changeable the situation is.
But with important grains and horticulture harvests fast approaching, we must do everything we can to get these crops in. NSW Farmers is calling for clarity and certainty around the mobility of workers, and the development of standardised protocols for the movement of workers, agronomists, and farmers both intra- and inter-state. We need clarity on how COVID-safe practices in the workplace and whether a two-week quarantine period will be necessary for vaccinated workers. NSW Farmers also supports the deployment of rapid antigen testing as an efficient way of testing the COVID-19 status of workers.
The next few months will be extremely busy for those with fields full of grain and trees weighed down by fruit. Our farmers are doing their bit by making use of the rain, but it's up to all of us to do our bit and put lockdowns behind us.
- James Jackson, NSW Farmers president
Have you signed up to The Land's free daily newsletter? Register below to make sure you are up to date with everything that's important to NSW agriculture.