COVID-19 update for industry
APAL has been in communication with the Department of Agriculture and key industry stakeholders on steps in moving forward and adapting to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
In a teleconference this morning, the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud advised that food supply to Australians is a non-negotiable priority. The Minister said that the food supply chain is working well, not withstanding issues regarding consumer panic. Other issues discussed included concerns over ag-chemical supply chain. The view was that these concerns would not cause any major problems going forward.
Food quality, and the potential for transmission of the virus through food was also discussed. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) have advised that they consider transmission via food is unlikely, also noting that investigations into spread of the virus were ongoing. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a statement noting there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of the virus.
The Federal Government understand the potential labour shortage issues that could arise, and are exploring ways to combat this. One such solution is to potentially redirect out of work casual employees from the nations cities, into rural areas to fill the void.
While the issue of worker shortages due to the virus is a very significant one, the most important concern is the health and wellbeing of society. As per the advice from health authorities State and Federal Governments, businesses are urged to take the issue of hygiene very seriously to prevent the spread of infection. The immediate self-isolation of potentially ill workers is important.
From a business perspective, APAL encourages employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff.
There is potentially financial assistance available for small and medium businesses – find out more here. For information on workplace entitlements, obligations, health and safety laws and more, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s information page.
An Agricultural Ministerial Council meeting will take place tomorrow, with the National Farmers Federation (NFF) present alongside Federal and State Ministers.
APAL will continue to update information on the virus and what it means for growers and harvest labour, as it comes to light.
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