Farmers and businesses in the food supply chain are anxious for guarantees that food production and supply will not be restricted under measures imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Federal Government has confirmed agriculture is an essential service, but it’s up to each State Government to deliver the detail of what this looks like.
The lack of clarification from the Victorian Government has spread confusion through the sector.
Farmers still don’t know how restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19 will affect the agriculture supply chain, including access to fertilizer and chemicals, while farm supply stores and saleyards are lacking guidance on how to comply with the Government’s restrictions.
The food supply chain needs a clear way forward to ensure farmers can continue to stock supermarket shelves.
But there has been nothing but silence from Daniel Andrews and his Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes which has left the sector confused.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh wrote to the Premier on Monday urgently seeking clarification on the agriculture sector being classed as an essential service.
In this time of crisis, farmers and businesses in the food supply chain must be able to continue their critical work putting food on Victorian tables.
Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
If there is going to be food on supermarket shelves, the Victorian Government must provide certainty for all businesses that help grow, process and distribute food, otherwise the shelves will be bare.
Chemical suppliers, fodder companies, seed suppliers, shearers, vets, saleyards, abattoirs, trucking companies and all associated industries are waiting on Andrews to provide clarity as to whether they are open for business.
It’s not enough for the Agriculture Minister to say agriculture is ‘important’, but fail to follow up with guarantees it will be protected as an essential service.
Producers, agricultural suppliers and other businesses that are crucial to the agriculture supply chain must be able to continue their work feeding our state.