FARMERS have been assured that agriculture and the food supply chain will not be interrupted, despite the closure of travel between some states to fight the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said the NFF had been given the assurance by the federal and state governments at meetings last week.
However, the NFF has also reiterated the urgent need for agriculture and the food supply chain to be deemed an essential service, for the purpose of the COVID-19 response.
“We have been in discussions, as recently as this afternoon, with the government clearly acknowledging the critical importance of a reliable food supply chain.
“The NFF has been assured that agriculture and the food supply chain will not be interrupted, despite the closure of travel between some states,” Ms Simson said.
“This is in line with the Prime Minister’s commitment to prioritising lives and livelihoods.
“The continued provision of quality fresh produce is paramount to safeguarding the well-being and health of the nation,” she said.
“Our state farming member organisations have been having similar conversations with their state governments.”
Ms Simson said the confirmation of agriculture as an essential service, by the states and the Commonwealth as a collective, would guarantee measures to control the spread of COVID-19 did not inadvertently obstruct food production and supply.
“The agriculture industry takes human health seriously and is taking appropriate measures to ensure this is a priority.
“That being said, the transport of produce from farm to market must be able to happen unobstructed – this includes across state borders,” she said.
“Likewise, for the logistics that ensure the flow of essential agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and crop protection products.
“Discussions also remain active about how to protect the workforce of key facilities such as abattoirs, should there be a positive COVID-19 test,” Ms Simson said.
“We understand a list of essential services may be developed by states.
“It is absolutely critical that there is consistency across states in the recognition of the importance of food production and the supply chain.”
Ms Simson said the NFF has reiterated the farm sector’s commitment to playing its vital role in ensuring Australians continue to have access to the quality, fresh groceries they depend on in these uncertain and challenging times.