By Growcom CEO Stephen Barnard
Back in December the National Farmers’ Federation in collaboration with Growcom launched the National Lost Crop Register.
The purpose of the Register is to anonymously record crops that have gone to waste because of a lack of seasonal labour, and use the results to better inform and influence decision makers.
Since then the Register has received 71 separate reports from around the country of crops lost totalling in excess of $47 million. Nearly $35 million of those losses have been in Queensland.
Aside from the lost value at farm gate, growers are also asked to report any other impacts on their business as a direct result of having insufficient seasonal labour. Many of these reports have been cause for more concern than the financial impacts.
About one in four growers have volunteered their concern for either their own mental health or those around them. Two in three growers have highlighted to lingering impact crop losses with have on the capacity to invest in their next season. Some have suggested they’ll soon be out of business.
The horticulture industry is resilient, no doubt. If resilience were a muscle, then growers would give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. But even the most finely tuned athletes will get injured.
The shortage in seasonal labour is not discriminating. Small and big growers alike are being impacted. So now more than ever, we need to pull together as an industry to help our own.
Today, once you’re done reading this piece, pick up the phone or jump in the ute and check in with a fellow grower. Then do it again next week. Make it a habit.
If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping then we urge you to call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
If your concern more surrounds your finances, then we encourage you to contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service free of charge on 1800 686 175.
Lastly, if you’ve not been able to harvest due to a lack of labour, we’d also ask you to record it in the National Lost Crop Register so governments understand this is a problem that demands their attention.
Find the Register here: https://bit.ly/NationalLostCropRegister.