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Growers COVID-19 information for horticulture participants

COVID-19 information for horticulture participants

The below alerts and resources are intended to help growers and others in the horticulture industry keep up to date with trusted information in these unusual times – particularly news and updates relating to continuing to operate. We’ll be updating this page with further advice and links as they become available.

Page last updated 2:30pm, 22 April 2020

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Confirmation that agriculture is an essential service

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment confirms:

“To slow the [COVID-19] outbreak, Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential gatherings and businesses. Farming, food and beverage production are not impacted. Also exempt are those who support these businesses. These include veterinarians; diesel mechanics; feed and hay production; freight.”

 

Continuing to operate in these circumstances for horticulture businesses and workers

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment advises:

电竞之家“All businesses must follow advice from the Department of Health and the relevant state and territory governments. They must:

  • Maintain a minimum distance of 1.5m between people
  • Provide hand hygiene products and suitable rubbish bins
  • Frequently clean and dispose of waste
  • Limit the amount of people for essential indoor or outdoor gatherings.

Businesses must be able to demonstrate how they are meeting these requirements. They should also develop continuity plans in case more requirements are imposed.”

***COVID-19 guides are available:***

  • PMA A-NZ has produced a Protecting your workforce guide for the fresh produce industry during the COVID-19 situation, with key checklists for operating safely across the farm, packing shed and more: . This guide offers horticulture-specific advice on top of the , which includes some great general information all agriculture producers can access. Update: PMA A-NZ has since also produced a more comprehensive resource, . The guide and other PMA resources are all housed .



  • Specifically for fresh produce processing facilities, the ARC Training Centre for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry has produced .  

  • See Safe Work Australia's guide for the industry, Agriculture: Minimising the risk from COVID-19, . Safe Work Australia also has a general guide for all Australian workplaces, not just agriculture, .

  • Freshcare has produced with information on hygiene, worker training and more, as well as a for those entering farms and facilities.

  • Safe Food Queensland offers this .


Webinars

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has teamed up with advbisory organisation BDO Australia to deliver a series of webinars to help agriculture businesses minimise the impact of COVID-19.

Key tips and advice in addition to the above:

  • Any worker that shows signs of illness, has been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or has recently travelled should not attend work

  • You can download and print any of these Department of Health posters for your workplace, so everyone is aware of the protocols and symptoms:
    •  


  • is fantastic to include in washroom areas
  • The Department of Health’s sets out some simple guidelines

  • Information on COVID-19 and Australian workplace laws is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman:

  • A variety of business information relevant to the pandemic is also


Industry-specific information

These resources have been produced by individual industries, but may be relevant across horticulture. Look for more resources to be added as they become available.

  • APAL has  for protecting apple and pear workers and businesses
  • The Australian Banana Growers' Council has a page on COVID-19 information for growers
  • The Australian Mango Industry Association is compiling information
  • The Australian Mushroom Growers' Association's COVID-10 procedures: Mushroom farms guide is
  • The Australian Table Grape Association has developed  and
  • Avocados Australia is bringing information together
  • Berries Australia has developed a to ensure safe practices are in place, and also has
  • Citrus Australia has produced the Guide to COVID-19 in the orchard and packing shed, with the latest version available from its
  • Greenlife Industry Australia is collating materials at

 

Borders, trade and markets

  • At the time of writing, border restrictions were in place for some Australian states and territories. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment advises that “states and territories know the importance of maintaining agriculture, food and fibre supply chains and moving goods around Australia… Services that support agriculture are exempt from border restrictions”. Hort Innovation is keeping abreast of this situation.

  • The FarmHub website, maintained by the National Farmers’ Federation, is maintaining up-to-date Australian border control information by state and territory here: . This includes links to relevant documentation for agribusinesses. You can also find information directly through the state and territory governments:
    •  
    •  


  • Information for exporters relating to COVID-19 is available from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment at

  • For exporters, the government has announced an Air Freight Assistance Mechanism to back the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors. Growers are invited to have input, including through sharing their freight requirements, at . At the time of writing, there was no closing date on submissions.

Market info and insights

  • Austrade is posting insights to their website at

  • Harvest to Home - a collaboration between Hort Innovation and Nielsen that delivers consumer behavioural data and insights relating to horticultural commodities - is providing COVID-19 fresh produce updates .

  • More generally,  

  • Euromonitor has a featuring ecommerce information across 40 countries, including for fresh food categories such as vegetables.

 

Labour updates and resources

  • On Saturday 4 April, the government announced temporary changes to visa arrangements that will help horticulture growers access the workforce needed on farm.  and there is information for businesses that employ visa holders available . The arrangements require working holidaymakers and seasonal workers to self-isolate for 14 days before moving between regions.

  • The federal and state governments are currently considering other ways to meet the ongoing workforce needs of the horticulture sector in particular. Growers should look out for opportunities to advise of their current needs, whether that is through your peak industry body or other relevant authority.

For businesses taking on new workers, the below resources may assist in addition to the COVID-19 workforce guides linked to further up the page. More will be added as they come to light.

 

Financial and business assistance

  • Visit the FarmHub website for an overview of assistance available through federal, state and territory avenues:

  • The WA Small Business Development Corporation has some handy articles, including:


  • The government’s Rural Financial Counselling Service program is a free, confidential service that’s available to farmers that are experiencing or are at risk of financial hardship. You can learn more at or call 1800 686 175 to be referred to your nearest office. A rural financial counsellor can help you work through and understand your current financial situation, including the implications of the current situation, and connect you with relevant professional services and assistance schemes. They can also help you apply directly for the Farm Household Allowance.

 

Safety of horticultural produce

On Sunday 29 March, Hort Innovation issued a joint media release with Nutrition Australia, CSIRO and AUSVEG regarding the safety of fresh horticultural produce, which can be viewed here: whygetup.com/hort-innovation/news-events/covid-19-outbreak. A video with Hort Innovation R&D Manager and Accredited Practising Dietitian Jemma O'Hanlon was also shared in Hort Innovation's social media channels, promoting the safety and health benefits of fresh fruits, veggies and nuts: .

Importantly, to date there is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted through food.  which reports that “so far there is no evidence that people have become infected by swallowing the virus in or on food or drink”.

电竞之家The NSW Food Authority has prepared this information for food-related businesses in relation to COVID-19: .

 

General COVID-19 information

  • Get the basics on the novel coronavirus in

  • Be sure to follow all national and state requirements regarding social distancing and home isolation

  • Be alert for the symptoms of the illness, which include:
    • Fever
    • Coughing
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
  • Use the HealthDirect online symptom checker if you’re not sure: . You can also use the Department of Health’s chart for telling novel coronavirus from other illnesses at .

  • Call the National Coronavirus Helpline for advice on 1800 020 080 if you’d like to talk to someone about your symptoms or, if you need to seek medical advice, be sure to call the doctor or hospital before attending in person

  • If you’re experiencing a medical emergency including difficulty breathing or turning blue, call triple zero (000)

  • The Department of Health’s COVID-19 health alert page offers daily updates on the status of Australia’s COVID-19 situation and response at

  • The Department of Health also has 30+ clear fact sheets on COVID-19, available from

 

Mental wellbeing and support

It’s important we all look after ourselves during this strange and potentially very stressful time.

  • The Head to Health website () is a national initiative with specific information on COVID-19 support

  • The World Health Organization has during the COVID-19 outbreak and

  • The FarmHub website has details, links and phone numbers for a range of mental health services, including those specific to rural areas, at

If you are thinking about suicide, for 24/7 support call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If your life is in danger, call 000.

 

Questions and contacts

Growers and other horticulture participants should feel free to reach out to their Hort Innovation Industry Strategic Partner for information about the company's actions and activities for their industry during this national health crisis, and in general. The phone and email details for the partner for your industry can be found on our contacts page here. 

 

Have we missed something?

If you’d like to see something included on this page that you think will be of use, please reach out to communications@horticulture.com.au with the details.