A national Agrifood Workforce Summit held in Brisbane has heard that without urgent attention, workforce issues in the supply chain would continue to put upward pressure on food prices for Australians.
The Summit – jointly hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) on Thursday – brought together 120 representatives from right across the food and fibre supply chain to discuss workforce challenges and solutions.
ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar said attendees had sent a clear message that action was needed.
“We heard three key things loud and clear: migration settings need to catch up urgently to plug shortages along the supply chain; we need to do more to improve safety outcomes for workers; and we need to ensure regulatory settings don’t make it harder for small and medium enterprises to hire.
“It’s clear that from paddock to plate, the businesses who put food on our table are under enormous pressure.
“The message to government is that we need to tread carefully on matters like industrial relations. Our food supply chain is dominated by small, family-owned businesses. The cost of new regulation has to land somewhere.”
NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said farmers were acutely aware of the impact shortages and regulatory changes were having on the cost of doing business.
“We’re continuing to see record food price inflation, confirmed by ABS data in the last 24 hours. Our own market research points to the pain Australians are feeling – with 77 per cent of Australians concerned about the cost of fresh food.
“There is more that governments can do to square up to this challenge in partnership with industry. It’s clear from what we heard today that government needs to listen carefully to agrifood stakeholders and take a cautious approach to sensitive reforms like industrial relations.”
A full communique of outcomes from the Workforce Summit is available here.