The Queensland horticulture industry has come together today to urge employers and job seekers alike to do their homework and put recruitment and travel plans in place early. 

“Finding the right people, in the right place and at the right time has always proven problematic for horticulture. And coronavirus has only magnified this challenge,” said Joe Moro, Chair of the Queensland Horticulture Council.

“We have had reports of growers being overwhelmed by the number of travelers appearing on their front step looking for work.

“In many cases these growers already have a full complement of staff and so are having to turn everyone away. This has reportedly led to increased numbers of travelers milling around regional towns.

“This is exactly what we need to avoid.

“So we are encouraging growers to consider their workforce needs now, advertise jobs early, and wherever they can, post their vacancies on the Harvest Trail jobs board at https://jobsearch.gov.au/harvest.

“It’s the one central and national platform we have as an industry to match job seekers with employment opportunities. Having as much information as possible available in the one place will mean job seekers will be able to make better decisions about looking for and finding work.”

The Queensland Horticulture Council is also calling today for all visitors, and especially job seekers, to strictly adhere to on-farm biosecurity requirements. 

“We can’t emphasis enough that job seekers, whether they’re backpackers or locals, must observe instructions from farmers. That includes respecting signs directing visitors not to enter a property or report only to the office,” said Mr Moro. 

“As an industry we’re obviously primarily concerned with the health and safety of our employees, but we’re also very mindful of the wellbeing of both backpackers without work, and the residents of regional towns.

“The best outcome from a public health perspective for all concerned, growers, their employees and regional communities is that, as far as possible, only those with work are moving around Queensland, and only those with a job or a service to deliver are coming onto farms.”

Growcom, the peak body for horticulture in Queensland, has said growers also have an important role in ensuring governments have the right plans and measures in place at regional and state level to manage the coronavirus contagion.

“We are strongly encouraging Queensland growers to tell Growcom and the State Government about their labour needs over each of the next six months, and have launched an online survey for this purpose” said David Thomson, CEO of Growcom.

“This labour forecast data is critical, not just for managing the movement of workers, but for getting regional health services prepared for increased demand as workers migrate around Queensland as produce comes into season.

“Right now, residents of the regional towns that support our industry are concerned about the capacity of their local health facilities to handle the coronavirus caseload during peak harvest season.

“As an industry we owe it to our health professionals to give them as much warning as possible about the likely future shape and size of our workforce.”

The survey, Horticulture Labour Forecast – April to September 2020 can be found here: https://bit.ly/3bADGGD

What is the Queensland Horticulture Council?

The Queensland horticulture industry is responsible for producing one third of all fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts grown and consumed in Australia. 

The Queensland Horticulture Council is the preeminent forum for deliberating horticulture policy in Queensland. It is comprised of representatives from each of the major regionally-based grower groups and associations, and is facilitated by Growcom.