Growers in Victoria’s Lindenow Valley have had to dump $150,000 worth of celery crops. They were simply unable to harvest the vegetables due to a drastic shortage of seasonal workers. The crops have to be picked within a short timeframe to meet supermarket certification, but COVID-19 travel bans have led to a drastic shortage of backpackers and pickers from the Pacific Islands.
Growers have offered to charter flights and pay for on-farm quarantine themselves, but the Victorian government is yet to approve a COVID-safe way of bolstering the agriculture workforce to meet the immediate demand.
“We really do rely on our seasonal workers and at this stage the Victorian government seems to be blocking any discussion about quarantining our seasonal workers in regional areas,” Australian Vegetable and Potato industry chair Bill Bulmer told abc.net.au. “It’s a sad statement to say, but with JobSeeker and JobKeeper the locals don’t seem to want to take up the manual labour.”
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