FGV Media Release - FGV calls for immediate action on supply chain risk



M E D I A    R E L E A S E

 11 January 2022

 FGV calls for immediate action on supply chain risk

Fruit Growers Victoria today called on the Federal Government to prioritise availability of rapid antigen tests for agricultural supply chain businesses.

FGV Chairman Mitch McNab indicated that supply chain issues are becoming critical.

“Worker shortages from Covid are really starting to bite in the processing and transport sector, exacerbating an already drastic shortage of pickers. Transporting fruit from containers to packing sheds and on to supermarkets is becoming very difficult. Packing sheds and orchards are seeing their limited workforce even further reduced. Supermarkets are reducing orders of perishable foods because of their own distribution issues.”

“Fruit needs to be on supermarket shelves right now, not remaining unpicked or stuck in the supply chain.”

“There are also longer-term implications if fruit goes unpicked. There is only one harvest season. Labour shortages now impact not just immediate supply chain issues, but fruit availability for the whole year.”

Mr McNab said that access to rapid Covid testing is the key tool for managing food supply chain risk in the next month.

“We need swift action from the government to roll out testing capability in workplaces of key importance.”

“It’s the only way we can effectively manage this outbreak and maintain a functioning food supply chain. Without access to testing, we’re either exposing employees to illness, or we’re sending healthy people home unnecessarily at a critical time for supply chains. Either result means fewer employees responsible for an already stretched system.”

“The lack of preparedness from government to what we all knew was coming is extremely disappointing. They need to step up and make some key strategic decisions now.”

According to Mr McNab, the failure to enable access to RATs is compounding the shortage of labour from limited access to overseas workers.

“After two years of closed borders our industry is short thousands of workers already. This includes workers on visas for skilled migrants, working holiday makers, family migration and students.

“We also need details of the proposed ag visa as soon as possible, so growers know if this is an option for sourcing labour in coming years.”

Mr McNab also expressed concerns about the Victorian Government imposing vaccine booster mandates for staff in processing facilities.

“Fruit growers have already been affected by the original vaccine mandates for nominated industries. The industry needs clarity on whether employees in fruit packing facilities must receive a third vaccination shot. Our industry risks losing further key staff, without any apparent public health benefit.”

“It’s another example of unclear information adding to our problems.”


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Fruit Growers Victoria Ltd
8-10 Wheeler Street,
Shepparton Vic 3630

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