Peak industry body for Queensland horticulture, Growcom has welcomed last night’s Federal Budget announcement of a $3.2 million investment over four years to extend and fast track the uptake of the Fair Farms program.

Designed and delivered by Growcom, Fair Farms is the Australian-made training and certification program designed to help farmers in the horticultural sector engage in fair and ethical work practices.  

It provides growers with employment best-practice standards, in a straightforward, efficient, and auditable process that farmers can use to demonstrate they conform to the law and treat workers well. 

Fair Farms National Program Manager Marsha Aralar said since June 2020 the program has experienced a 230 per cent increase in registered participants, and those who had completed their online self-assessments had more than quadrupled ahead of the formal auditing process.   

“Strong uptake of the program so far indicates growing intent along the supply chain to demonstrate fair and equitable work practices and eradicate exploitation,” Ms Aralar said.   

“Fair Farms is about giving producers easy and affordable access to the resources they need to understand and conform with the laws that underpin the treatment of workers.   

“It’s about levelling the competitive playing field by raising awareness and commitment to good work practices while reducing the burden of unnecessary red tape for farmers.” 

Ms Aralra added there was never going to be a quick fix silver bullet to widespread worker exploitation that was identified by the Federal regulator in their 2017 Harvest Trail Enquiry report.

“Our industry has taken responsibility for ensuring that Australian workplace relations laws and industry standards are correctly implemented on-farm, and that growers are aware of their duties as fair and responsible employers,” Ms Aralar said.

“Ultimately, the Fair Farms program is about ensuring Australia has a strong, thriving horticultural industry which benefits not only individual farmers and the industry, but the broader community as a whole.”