Peak lobby group calls for border measures that sure-up farming needs

Urgent action needed to clarify border confusion

Opinion
There are fears fruit could go unpicked and be wasted in areas near Victoria's border due to movement restrictions on workers in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks. PHOTO: John Woudstra

There are fears fruit could go unpicked and be wasted in areas near Victoria's border due to movement restrictions on workers in the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks. PHOTO: John Woudstra

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VFF calls for clarity over border confusion to minimise disruptions to agricultural sector.

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The Victorian Farmers Federation's message is simple - all agriculture and our essential supply lines must be allowed to continue to operate, despite the current restrictions on cross-border travel between Victoria and other states.

There is nothing more damaging to industry than uncertainty and confusion, such as what is being experienced in some border communities that have essentially been split as movement restrictions between the states change.

Industry in these regions needs reciprocal conditions either side of state lines to allow for clarity and the uninhibited continuation of essential agriculture, products and services that form our cross-border supply lines.

Of course, the priority must be to halt the spread of COVID-19 and ensure our health.

But we need a common-sense approach that also shores-up the critical food and fibre production that feeds Australia.

Due to the cross-border travelling nature of many seasonal workers on the New South Wales and Victorian border, any decision to restrict this movement will have a disastrous impact on farmers - and tonnes of produce will rot on the trees.

The current requirement for the domestic workforce to isolate after crossing the border and finishing work also risks the industry's ability to produce food, and places a shadow of uncertainty for the upcoming harvest in the coming months.

The issue of border closures and restrictions is bound to continue for months at the very least.

As farmers, we need all levels of government to come together and provide a solution that guarantees the continuation of agriculture - not just in the imminent future, but also in the months ahead.

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