The National Farmers’ Federation Horticulture Council today launched the National Lost Crop Register enabling growers around the country to anonymously record crops that have gone to waste because of a lack of seasonal labour.
Over 30 growers have already reported crop losses, worth more than $22 million at the farm gate.
Growcom, the peak horticulture body in Queensland, has led the design and development of the Register in collaboration with industry colleagues.
The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) will now track and report crop losses as the slow moving crisis of seasonal worker shortages unfolds. This evidence will be used to inform decision-making and improve the ability of industry to collectively advocate for greater government intervention where necessary.
“There is a real risk the true extent and impact of the labour shortage will be lost. We intend on publishing a running tab as crop losses mount towards Christmas and beyond,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said.
“Reports of lost crops have already made the media, and we are hearing of plenty more examples confidentially. Unlike a drought, poor prices or a new disease, the lack of labour available to harvest our crops won’t discriminate. It will be felt across the country, in every commodity.
“Expert independent analysis has confirmed we now have a labour shortage and suggests that without the return of international travel to previous levels our situation is likely to deteriorate through next year.
“Our political leaders and governments need to understand what’s happening on the ground so they can respond with better solutions. And there is an important opportunity here as well to educate the public on what’s required in terms of human labour to ensure their grocery aisles are full of fantastic fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.
“We are calling on all growers who have left crops in the field for lack of labour to jump online and anonymously record the farm gate value they’ve lost. The Register will remain open as long as the labour shortage plays out.
“We are also asking growers where they are willing to come forward and speak publicly about their losses. Nobody conveys better the issues of our industry than growers themselves. The Register gives growers an opportunity to put their hand up for this important task.”
Southern Queensland strawberry grower Nathan Baronio has already recorded more than half a million in lost crop on the Register and is expecting further losses as his production peaks into next year.
“It is an incredibly demoralizing situation. Our staff and management team are working way too long and hard to get the crop off, but eventually we’ve had to sacrifice some fields in order to harvest others,” said Mr Baronio.
“I want to encourage all my fellow growers around the country to record their losses on the Register, and where they feel comfortable, share their story with the public.”
The National Lost Crop Register is open now and can be found here: https://bit.ly/NationalLostCropRegister