The Nationals WA welcome the State Government’s announcement the agriculture sector, primary producers and processors are considered essential industries in response to COVID-19 but say more clarity is needed for workers and businesses across the entire food and fibre supply chain.
Spokesperson for Agriculture Colin de Grussa said The Nationals WA wrote to the Minister for Agriculture earlier this week to raise concerns on behalf of the sector.
“There was an ambiguity between who was considered essential personnel, what were essential businesses and what were deemed non-essential operations,” Mr de Grussa said.
“While we welcome the announcement that farmers, primary producers, processors and transportation personnel have been officially recognised as essential staff and will be exempt from travel restrictions, greater clarity is needed around the entire supply chain.
“We need this to be cleared up urgently so our agricultural industry can continue to supply our supermarkets and grocery stores at this critical time.”
Mr de Grussa said any sector providing inputs or outputs for WA’s food and fibre production should be classified as essential including:
• All farm production, including agricultural and horticultural production, dairies and nurseries;
• All aspects of the agricultural supply chain including but not limited to transport, saleyards, abattoirs, food processing facilities and supermarkets;
• All essential agricultural support services including vehicle and machinery mechanics, fuel and fertiliser agents;
• Animal welfare services including veterinary staff and shearing teams; and
• All necessary biosecurity inspectors and quarantine services.
“In our letter we also brought to the Minister’s attention that there are concerns across the State about the certainty of supply of fertilisers and chemicals as many farmers will soon be looking to start seeding programs,” Mr de Grussa said.
“There are also concerns about the ability of farmers currently working the land to cater for their families and seasonal workforces.
“Many farmers would be seeking to stock up for the season but with restrictions on purchases and empty shelves in supermarkets there are logistical problems in ensuring they have sufficient food supplies to cover the season.
“The Minister should consider special dispensation for those in agriculture requiring bulk supplies.”