Clearer signals needed for farmers and critical service workers

Border confusion must stop in wake of virus restrictions

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Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke wants more government consultation with growers and essential service workers about travel requirements.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke wants more government consultation with growers and essential service workers about travel requirements.

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VFF says COVID-19- induced border confusion for farmers and essential workers must stop.

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Two weeks ago - in this very column - I stressed the importance of ensuring agriculture and its supply lines remain open, and that the process for critical services workers to travel cross-border needed to be a simple as can be.

However, during this time, we have seen repeated changes for farmers and those critical services people wanting to and being able to secure the paperwork and permits needed to travel in these regions.

Once again, there is nothing more damaging to industry and border regions than uncertainty, confusion and unnecessary red-tape delaying agriculture and industry.

I've personally had reports of some producers requiring seven permits for essential travel during the space of the past two weeks.

At the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), we are also hearing reports of farmers who aren't being allowed manage stock or pastures located on the other side of state lines.

This simply must be fixed and soon. It is unacceptable and we'll face animal welfare and production issues if it isn't rectified.

Of course, we must help to halt the spread of COVID-19. But there has to be a common sense solution.

That's why the VFF will continue regular discussions with farmers and industry partners - such as meat processors - to identify problems, which we can then discuss with government to seek a solution.

We'll likely be facing border closures and restrictions in some form for the foreseeable future.

That's why we need to ensure organisations such as the VFF are consulted by government before any rash decisions are made that may have unacceptable and/or unintended consequences.

I have no doubt that as a farming community we will rise to this latest challenge, and farmers can be assured that the VFF will have their back as we continue to navigate these extraordinary times.

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