COVID-19 Restriction Puts Australian Citrus at Risk

Ernie NeffCOVID-19, International, Labor

COVID-19

Citrus Australia says a newly enacted border zone instituted to curtail the spread of COVID-19 will result in citrus crops rotting if seasonal harvesters can’t get into New South Wales (NSW) quickly. The new border zone along the Murray River will tighten restrictions for entry from Victoria into NSW.

“Although the agriculture industry has been defined as a critical service, seasonal workers have been expressly forbidden from crossing the border to pick fruit on farms where they have been working for weeks,” a July 21 Citrus Australia media release stated. “If (seasonal workers are) required to self-isolate for 14 days, this fruit will rot, costing growers and the regional and national economy millions of dollars.”

Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock wants NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to provide citrus growers with immediate information on seasonal workers. “We urgently require Minister Hazzard to provide some answers,” Hancock said. “There is no justification to ban seasonal workers as they do not pose a greater threat than anyone else working in agriculture. Contrary to Minister Hazzard’s assessment, a seasonal worker is a critical worker.”

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“Minister Hazzard needs to … allow a permit for seasonal workers who have been in the region for more than 14 days, are healthy and have employment so that they can go to their job and support themselves and our communities,” Hancock added. “The information provided so far is vague and contradictory and we need this mess sorted before midnight to give our growers certainty.”

See the full Citrus Australia media release about the situation regarding COVID-19 and seasonal workers.

In other Australian citrus news, government officials recently gave fresh juice with no added sugar a lower health rating than diet cola. Learn more here.

Source: Citrus Australia

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