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Growers COVID-19 information for horticulture participants

COVID-19 information for horticulture participants

The below alerts and resources are intended to help growers and others in the horticulture industry keep up to date with trusted information in these unusual times – particularly news and updates relating to continuing to operate. We’ll be updating this page with further advice and links as they become available.

Page last updated 1:30pm, 4 December 2020

Scroll down to find the information you need, or skip straight to what you want:

Confirmation that agriculture is an essential service

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment confirms:

“To slow the [COVID-19] outbreak, Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential gatherings and businesses. Farming, food and beverage production are not impacted. Also exempt are those who support these businesses. These include veterinarians; diesel mechanics; feed and hay production; freight.”

You can read more about agriculture as an essential service here

Continuing to operate in these circumstances for horticulture businesses and workers

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment advises:

“All businesses must follow advice from the Department of Health and the relevant state and territory governments. They must:

  • Maintain a minimum distance of 1.5m between people
  • Provide hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins
  • Frequently clean and dispose of waste
  • Limit the amount of people for essential indoor or outdoor gatherings.

Businesses must be able to demonstrate how they are meeting these requirements. They should also develop continuity plans in case more requirements are imposed.”

COVID-19 guides are available:

Note: These guides offer general information on COVID-19 work force practices and were developed in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Readers should check the validity of information to ensure it is reflective of recent updates. For current updates, visit the Department of Health COVID-19 page.


Webinars

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries teamed up with advisory organisation BDO Australia to deliver a series of webinars from March through to June 2020 to help agriculture businesses minimise the impact of COVID-19. You can watch previously recorded sessions on the BDO website here.

Key tips and advice in addition to the above:

Industry-specific information

These resources have been produced by individual industries, but may be relevant across horticulture. Look for more resources to be added as they become available.

 

2020/21 federal budget and horticulture

On Tuesday 6 October the new federal budget was announced which brought some changes impacting the horticultural and the overarching agricultural sector. You can read more about these changes below:

Borders, trade and markets

Market info and insights

Labour updates and resources

  • On Saturday 4 April 2020, the government announced temporary changes to visa arrangements that will help horticulture growers access the workforce needed on farm. More information can be found in this announcement from the Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproud.
  • The federal and state governments are currently considering other ways to meet the ongoing workforce needs of the horticulture sector in particular. Growers should look out for opportunities to advise of their current needs, whether that is through your peak industry body or other relevant authority.

For businesses taking on new workers, the below resources may assist in addition to the COVID-19 workforce guides linked to further up the page. More will be added as they come to light.

 

Seasonal horticulture labour demand and workforce study

Hort Innovation has delivered a study to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the horticulture sector in accessing and securing their casual workforce, it’s called the “Seasonal horticulture labour demand and workforce study” (Sept 2020).

Hort Innovation engaged Ernst & Young (EY) to conduct extensive stakeholder consultation across the sector and help build a foundational understanding of the horticulture labour market to proactively support growers in a changing landscape. The study provides an 18-month outlook on the casual labour demand across different regions, to support industry discussion on longer term COVID-19 response.

To request a copy of the study, please contact Anthony Kachenko on (02) 8295 2343 or by email.

 

Financial and business assistance

  • Visit the FarmHub website for an overview of assistance available through federal, state and territory avenues and see a corresponding cheat sheet for information on the job keeper extension here.
  • For general information on financial help for businesses you can visit the Jobkeeper payment and the Jobkeeper extension pages on the ATO website.
  • The WA Small Business Development Corporation has some handy articles, including:
  • The government’s Rural Financial Counselling Service program is a free, confidential service that’s available to farmers that are experiencing or are at risk of financial hardship. You can learn more here or call 1800 686 175 to be referred to your nearest office. A rural financial counsellor can help you work through and understand your current financial situation, including the implications of the current situation, and connect you with relevant professional services and assistance schemes. They can also help you apply directly for the Farm Household Allowance.

 

Safety of horticultural produce

On Sunday 29 March 2020, Hort Innovation issued a joint media release with Nutrition Australia, CSIRO and AUSVEG regarding the safety of fresh horticultural produce, which can be viewed here. A video with Hort Innovation R&D Manager and Accredited Practising Dietitian Jemma O'Hanlon was also shared in Hort Innovation's social media channels, promoting the safety and health benefits of fresh fruits, veggies and nuts.

Importantly, to date there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted through food. Food Standards Australia New Zealand has this advice which reports that “so far there is no evidence that people have become infected by swallowing the virus in or on food or drink”.

The NSW Food Authority has prepared this information for food-related businesses in relation to COVID-19.

General COVID-19 information

  • Get the basics on the novel coronavirus in this quick fact sheet from the Department of Health
  • Be sure to follow all national and state requirements regarding social distancing and home isolation
  • Be alert for the symptoms of the illness, which include:
    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
  • Use the the HealthDirect online symptom checker if you’re not sure: You can also use the Department of Health’s chart for telling novel coronavirus from other illnesses.
  • Call the National Coronavirus Helpline for advice on 1800 020 080 if you’d like to talk to someone about your symptoms or, if you need to seek medical advice, be sure to call the doctor or hospital before attending in person
  • If you’re experiencing a medical emergency including difficulty breathing or turning blue, call triple zero (000)
  • The Department of Health’s COVID-19 health alert page offers daily updates on the status of Australia’s COVID-19 situation and response.
  • The Department of Health also has 30+ clear fact sheets on COVID-19.

Mental wellbeing and support

It’s important we all look after ourselves during this strange and potentially very stressful time.

If you are thinking about suicide, for 24/7 support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If your life is in danger, call 000.

Questions and contacts

Growers and other horticulture participants should feel free to reach out to their Hort Innovation Industry Strategic Partner for information about the company's actions and activities for their industry during this national health crisis, and in general. The phone and email details for the partner for your industry can be found on our contacts page here. 

Have we missed something?

If you’d like to see something included on this page that you think will be of use, please reach out to communications@horticulture.com.au with the details.