The quintessential Australia Day barbecue is in peril this year as national meat shortages threaten to derail the tradition.
It's the latest impact of COVID on our community and NSW Farmers is working to get more action taken as more and more meat processing and distribution workers fall ill, with a fast-approaching peak in cases spelling trouble come the end of January.
Food supply chain workers are among the 'critical' workers exempt from isolation requirements (if they can demonstrate a negative test result), and this will go a long way in keeping our food supply flowing.
NSW Farmers has been calling for more rapid antigen tests (RATs) since September, and we have been telling our elected officials for months that RATs would help ease worker shortages.
Governments need to do everything within their power to keep agricultural supply chains flowing in a safe way.
NSW Farmers believe RATs should be made free, or heavily subsidised, for our essential agricultural workers, to keep them safe and keep our supply chains moving.
The federal government has recently subsidised RATs for concession card holders, but what about our essential agricultural workers, many of whom live in regional areas?
We need food on our supermarket shelves, and workers in the regions - where a bulk of food processing and manufacturing occurs - must be given ample access to RATs.
With labour already diminished by a halt to international travel due to the pandemic, the latest COVID disruption is yet another blow to the essential agricultural workforce.
Agriculture, and the supply chains connecting the farm gate to the consumer, must be top priority for state and federal governments as we work through this latest variant and continue to grow our nation's food and fibre.
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