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Meat processors cite worker shortage as first priority

Sheep Central, May 23, 2022

AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson.

AUSTRALIA’S meat exporters have identified the sectors critical workforce shortage as its first priority with the new Labor Government.

AMIC chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson said AMIC and its members are eager to work with the newly-formed Albanese Government and look forward to the Prime Minister naming his agriculture minister upon his return from Tokyo.

“Our first priority is to work with government on the critical workforce shortage for our industry and address the need for a dedicated meat industry working visa.

“We believe the shortages will have an impact on two areas, one is on farmers, and one is on food security,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“Prior to the election, the ACTU also recognised this issue at the COSBOA Summit, stating ongoing workforce shortages will have an impact on feeding the nation and the world.

“According to industry forecasts, which show a big uptick in cattle and sheep production, the industry only has enough staff to manage the current livestock supply, which is at a historical low,” he said.

“Therefore, if the current workforce shortages are not addressed, we will not have the capacity to meet the rising throughput.

“We need a plan moving forward and AMIC as always is dedicated to supporting government on any plans to increase productivity in our sector,” Mr Hutchinson said.

The AMIC CEO also said its members needed the new government to protect Australia’s trade and biosecurity interests, against the backdrop of escalating regional animal health threats including Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease, that could destroy rural and regional prosperity should the devastating diseases breach the nation’s shores.

“On the trade front, we are cautiously optimistic about the widely reported opportunity to reset the trading relationship with China under the new government, and hope that we will be able to embark on a new era of cooperative dialogue.

“Further, we hope that the finalisation of a number of free trade deals will be a priority for the incoming government, and look forward to seeing the benefits of these deals flow through to the Australian people,” he said.

“This is a critical time for our industry, an industry with $18.4bn in red meat exports, $13.4 billion in domestic red meat sales, a $4bn smallgoods manufacturing industry, and directly and indirectly employing 195,800 people.”

Mr Hutchinson congratulated Anthony Albanese and his Labor Government on their victory in Saturday’s federal election.

He also thanked former Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and their teams for their service to Australia over the last three years, and for working closely with the industry.

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