Labor shortage and covid threaten Australia’s ‘record’ harvest

Australia’s agricultural sector is set to hit a record $ 73 billion annually, but labor shortages and border restrictions threaten farmers’ ability to deliver on the promise of a bumper harvest.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences released its Agricultural Synthesis report on Tuesday, revealing how a “remarkable combination of events” – optimal seasonal conditions and high commodity prices in several sectors – should mean that total agricultural production exceeds $ 70. bn marks for the first time.

The National Farmers Federation said this year’s remarkable growth was an important step towards its goal of growing agriculture to a $ 100 billion sector by 2030.

According to the Rabobank Quarterly Rural Confidence Survey, also released on Tuesday, “Confidence in Australia’s agricultural sector is at one of the highest levels in survey history.” But Rabobank Australia chief executive Peter Knoblanche said farmers’ biggest concerns about Covid-19 were the impact of restrictions on securing the farm workforce and on shipping delays and delays. container costs.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said 27,000 men and women from 10 Pacific countries had been found to work in the Australian region, but only 10,000 could be brought in. Littleproud announced a new farm visa in August. This will provide a route to permanent residence which he says would allow workers to be part of communities rather than going through the streets. The September 30 visa start date may be too late to meet labor demands for the bumper winter grain harvest expected in three weeks. The NFF has acknowledged that this year’s harvest will be worth $ 30 billion – a key pillar of the more than $ 70 billion forecast.

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