While we live in troubling times, there is one thing Australians don’t have to worry – running out of high-quality fresh food.
The agriculture industry is reassuring Australians that farmers “have their backs” and are pulling out all stops to meet sharply rising consumer demand driven by COVID-19 fears.
General President Georgie Somerset said AgForce was working with the State and Federal Governments to urgently facilitate the declaration of the agriculture and the food supply chain an ‘essential service’.
“We truly are the ‘lucky country’ when it comes to feeding ourselves, producing three times as much food as we need,” Mrs Somerset said.
“Australians can rest assured that our farmers are doing their bit and with recent rains are ramping up production to meet demand – although of course, this may take some time, as new crops don’t grow overnight.
“In the meantime, farmers hope our reassurances about the country’s food security will encourage people to return to their regular shopping habits, safe in the knowledge that there is more than enough for everybody.
“It is, in fact, the current sharp spike in demand that is affecting both the availability of food in shops and the higher-than-normal prices, especially for fresh produce.”
Mrs Somerset said AgForce was working closely with the Queensland Government and, through the National Farmers’ Federation, the Commonwealth Government to have agriculture and the rest of the food chain, including transport, recognised as an essential service.
“Clearly, access to a sure and affordable supply of fresh food is essential to maintaining community health and cohesion,” she said.
“The response by Federal and State Governments to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 crisis has been outstanding, but we also need to ensure these very necessary precautions don’t affect people’s access to food or indeed other essential household items.
“For example, border closures and restrictions on movement must not be allowed to impact on the transport of food products to shops or, just as importantly, on getting essential inputs like seed, livestock, fertiliser, crop protection products, and workers to our farms.”
“A lot of this sits under state jurisdictions, making a co-ordinated national approach absolutely essential. It’s a complex issue across multiple dimensions but we will need appropriate protocols in place quickly.
“AgForce will continue to work with the Queensland Government and we expect to see solid progress today.”