The state’s peak agricultural body says there is plenty of fresh food in the field, calling for calm amid supply chain concerns.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said there were good production levels of fresh food despite the challenging weather of the past few months and urged shoppers not to panic buy.
“Our growers are sending plenty of produce down to the Sydney Markets, and we’re working on making sure farm businesses can continue to harvest these crops,” Mr Jackson said.
“The big challenge for the agricultural sector now is sick workers and a lack of access to Rapid Antigen Tests, which are combining to create these broader supply chain issues you hear about.
“Sadly, we’ve seen some companies and individuals use the scarcity of tests and images of empty shelves as an opportunity to lift their prices, so we would ask the ACCC to keep a close eye on retailers to make sure they don’t bump up prices above any movements in the farm gate price of fresh fruit and vegetables.”
With numerous anecdotal reports of local worker shortages as the Omicron variant sweeps across the nation, Mr Jackson encouraged state and federal governments and the big supermarkets to urgently look at ways to supply farmers with Rapid Antigen Tests so they can keep sick workers at home and healthy workers in the fields harvesting fruit and vegetables and managing livestock.
“We’ve seen some positive announcements, but the fact remains that the fresh food we enjoy is grown on Australian farms, and if our farmers can’t get it out of their fields it won’t make it to supermarket shelves,” Mr Jackson said.
“What’s needed most is expedited supply of tests for farmers so they can keep the food flowing to Aussie families.
“We need the agriculture sector – including harvest workers and those in the meat processing sectors, as well as those in transport and handling – to get prioritised access to Rapid Antigen Testing in the latest outbreak, lest we return to the scenes of early 2020 when customers were stockpiling food items.”