The National Farmers’ Federation has welcomed the four-phase plan released following National Cabinet on Friday, aimed at transitioning Australia’s COVID-19 response and reopening international borders.
The NFF has been a vocal advocate for such a plan, and Chief Executive Tony Mahar has described Friday’s meeting as a positive first step.
The farm sector has been severely impacted by the closure of Australia’s international border, with farmers who rely on overseas visitors to help harvest crops unable to secure workers.
“Farmers have been hit hard by the border closure,” Mr Mahar said.
“Friday’s National Cabinet announcement gives us some hope that our leaders are looking beyond the vaccine rollout to how we’ll bring back those visitors who keep our economy in motion.
“Clearly, the plan released Friday omits a few key details – notably the vaccination thresholds required to progress through each phase. We’ll continue to maintain pressure on governments to finalise this modelling and provide some certainty.
“We’re also keen to understand how caps and quarantine arrangements for farm workers will be finalised – particularly in light of the commitment to deliver a dedicated Ag Visa before the end of this year.”
Agriculture has just notched up another record year, with farm output surpassing $66 billion, and Australia currently has more hectares of winter crop in the ground than ever before.
“Farm production is adding fuel to Australia’s economic recovery. The last thing we need is for a bumper crop to be stranded in the field because we can’t secure workers.
“Protecting the health of Australians must always come first, but it’s great to see National Cabinet starting to walk and chew gum. We need to finalise this plan to safely reopen our doors to the world,” Mr Mahar said.