Why the cost of fruits and vegetables will rise by SIXTY percent as farmers warn of food shortages across the country due to Victoria’s shutdown and bureaucrats plead with red tape to cut
- Australian farmers will miss about 71,000 seasonal workers this year
- The malaise will have a huge impact on fresh produce and drive up prices
- Farmers have asked the authorities to introduce an ‘agricultural permit’ to help
- Experts say the cost of fresh produce could increase by about 60 percent
The cost of fruits and vegetables could increase by 60 percent as the impact of the coronavirus border closures threatens to stifle the country’s food supply chain.
Australian farmers have pleaded with bureaucrats to introduce an ‘agricultural permit’ so that farm workers can bypass some COVID-19 lockdown measures to free the movement of livestock and crops.
The country faces a shortage of 71,000 workers to pick fruit as travel restrictions force backpackers to return home and prevent new travelers from arriving.
Industry experts say the massive shortages have forced Australians to pay huge prices for fresh food as supermarkets are forced to rely on imported goods.
The cost of fruits and vegetables can increase by 60 percent. In the photo: a woman in a face mask buying broccoli in Sydney
A shortage of 71,000 backpackers picking their crops due to lockdown measures will lead to massive fruit and vegetable price increases, industry experts say (pictured in Queensland)
There are implications for every Australian here. It will clearly have an impact on prices further down the supply chain, ‘said Michael Rogers, CEO of the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance The courier post.
Rogers said models have shown that the labor shortage would increase the cost of fresh produce by as much as 60 percent per kilogram, but it was hard to say when the price hike would hit supermarkets.
Meanwhile, agricultural experts say forcing farmers to quarantine after they travel an interstate has a crippling effect on industry and in turn the food supply chain.
Livestock is left unattended and could die, while crops are destroyed because quarantined farmers cannot irrigate and treat them, they say.
Farmer groups held a series of emergency meetings on Wednesday to discuss ways to get around the impending food crisis.
David Jochinke, the president of the Victorian Farmers Federation, told us Herald SunWe don’t farm for New South Wales, we don’t farm for Victoria or South Australia – we farm for the whole country.
‘I’ve had farmers on the phone crying because they were worried about their livestock. It puts pressure on production and the food supply chain. ‘
Some workers have been granted permits to cross state lines, but Mr Jochinke said many farmers do not meet the eligibility criteria – forcing them to fight the bureaucracy to ensure the land is fed.
‘If we see an area where scissors are short or where no fruit is being picked, then you will not get it back and it all has to do with the costs, with the choice in the supermarket,’ he says.
Workers sort and package strawberries at the Chambers Flat Strawberry Farm in Chambers Flat, Queensland
Federal Agriculture Secretary David Littleproud (pictured) said he doesn’t want fresh food to go to waste
Workers from the Pacific region have arrived in Darwin as part of a government trial to prevent supply chains from collapsing amid the backpacker shortage.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said: “No one wants to see fruit and vegetable wastage, so we are looking at how we can continue to support the agricultural sector in accessing the workers they need.”
Tyson Cattle, AusVeg’s manager of national public affairs, said the lack of seasonal workers cannot realistically be filled with domestic workers.
“Pickers and packers are at the beginning of the food chain without the rest of the supply chain falling,” he said.