Local farmers get harvest boost from ag workers’ code

WITH only weeks until headers roll out of the sheds and into the paddocks to start harvest, the region’s croppers have been given an employment boost, with Northern Tablelands MP and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall on Wednesday announcing the inclusion of the new Agricultural Workers Code into NSW public health orders relating to COVID-19.

Mr Marshall said the move paved the way for growers to access the staff and contractors needed to make the most of what will be a critical first harvest, following three years or more of record-breaking drought.

“Driving west from Inverell is an absolute site to see, paddocks absolutely brimming with grain just about ready to be come in,” Mr Marshall said.

“Now, farmers are poised to reap the rewards of one of the best seasons we’ve had since 2016 through this Code, which will allow the free movement of agricultural workers across state borders.

“The NSW Government has spearheaded the discussion on this issue, championing the introduction of the Agricultural Workers Code and now it has been the first to implement it.

“In order to ensure every possible business and operator in northern NSW benefits from this harvest, I urge the Queensland Government to sign up to the code, to ensure there are no interruptions to harvests taking place along the border.”

Farmers make a vital contribution to the state’s $15.9 billion primary industries sector, and more importantly to the local community and our regional economy.

Mr Marshall said the new NSW Agricultural Worker Permit would provide an avenue for eligible works from the agriculture industry to move into NSW – if they meet the permit requirements.

“A number of requirements must be met before a worker is provided a permit. This is to ensure we are adopting sensible and practical COVIDSafe principles,” he said.

“This includes having not been in a COVID19 restricted or area of concern, ability to self-isolate when not working and having documentation to support the permit.

“Importantly, those with an Agricultural Worker Permit may cross the border by land – this means they don’t need to enter NSW via Sydney airport.”

Agricultural worker permits will be available from from Friday, 25 September.

Media Release: Wednesday, September 23, 2020