Monday, 28 September 2020
The Member for Cootamundra is urging the community to come together to help harvest the region's agricultural crops.
Steph Cooke MP said there is an opportunity for school leavers, retirees and job seekers to take part in bringing in the bumper harvests forecasted for the coming months.
"With national borders closed due to COVID we simply don't have the number of seasonal workers available to harvest cherries, stone fruit, broadacre crops and work in some of our livestock industries," Ms Cooke said.
"This is an opportunity for our school leavers, those embarking on gap years and people not currently working to be part of this year's harvest, earn some great money and try working in a new industry."
"Primary producers and members of the community can come together this harvest to get what is shaping up to be our best harvest in years out of the orchards, off the paddocks and to market. I urge everyone who can to get involved."
President of Cherry Growers Australia Inc Tom Eastlake said a single point of contact for primary producers, interested workers, transport and accommodation providers had been created thanks to cooperation of all levels of government and agencies.
"Harvest Trail are a regular source of employees for the region, we've been working with them to proactively encourage people who haven't worked in horticulture in the past to try the industry this year. We've also been working with them on transport and accommodation to bring people in the region to pick this year, it's not just about finding staff, it's about ensuring the facilities are available," Mr Eastlake said.
"If we don't have the staff, the fruit doesn't get picked, we have a time-sensitive crop. Even days can see rain events, heat or cold impact the fruit and you can't harvest."
Mr Eastlake said the single point of contact for the district is Ed Milne, who can be contacted on 03 9864 6000 or by visiting www.baysidegroup.com.au.
To find available work in other regions visit Help Harvest NSW: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/help-harvest-nsw
The NSW Government is the first jurisdiction to write the new Agricultural Workers Code into public health orders, in an effort to secure more skilled workers for the upcoming harvest.
Ms Cooke said it was a promising step in getting primary producers the harvest staff they need.
"This change to the Public Health Order means eligible workers have a pathway to enter NSW, there will be restrictions such as self-isolating when not working, but it means some of the gaps in our harvest workforce can be filled," Ms Cooke said.
"Every harvest worker coming in to our communities is a boost to the local economy, whether they are renting accommodation, buying food or purchasing fuel. I am so pleased NSW has made this change to bring these important people in to our communities for the harvest period."
"Importantly, those with an Agricultural Worker Permit may cross the border by land - this means they don't need to enter NSW via Sydney airport. This is a sensible change that will help our communities bring in what is likely to be one of our best harvests in years."
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said the NSW Government had been a driving force behind the inter-jurisdictional agreement.
"Our farmers have just come out of the worst drought on record, and they are now poised to begin their recovery with the largest winter crop harvest since 2016, and they need the workforce to take advantage of that," Mr Marshall said.
"This Code will allow the critical free movement of agricultural workers across state borders so that primary industries can not only continue to feed and clothe the nation, but be the driving force behind the economic recovery from COVID-19."
Agricultural worker permits are available from www.service.nsw.gov.au.