Premiers urged: keep supply chains open

17th August 2020 | Eativity editors

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud is urging state premiers to inject themselves into serious cross-border issues that, if left unaddressed, could increase the cost of fresh produce, affect food supply chains and threaten the welfare of livestock.

“The arbitrary closure of state borders has had serious unintended consequences, not only on agricultural supply chains but also regional Australians wellbeing,” Littleproud says.

Hard closures are stopping the flow of silage contractors and grain harvesters between Queensland and NSW, and Queensland veterinarians and agronomists are also unable to visit their clients located in Northern NSW.

In one case, a Victorian pastoralist is unable to get to Broken Hill to feed and water her 500 cattle. In Corowa, a number of Victorian-based management and staff of a 5000-head dairy are prevented from crossing the border, risking the health and welfare of animals.

“State officials need to engage specifically with regional communities and industries at the direction of the premiers to identify workable solutions that keep supply chains open while keeping Australians safe rather than arbitrary, broad-reaching decisions,” Littleproud says.

A drop in supply and increase in demand will lead to price hikes.

If food supply chains are affected, this could lead to a shortage of food such as fruit, vegies and meat. A drop in supply will in turn lead to an increase in prices, making it more difficult for Australians to access fresh food, especially those who are already struggling financially.

As farmers are now preparing to harvest their winter crops, Minister Littleproud says that it’s essential to address cross-border issues now, to avoid supply problems developing along the chain in the coming weeks.  

“Keeping all of our agricultural supply chains secure is absolutely critical to ensuring supermarket prices for fresh products remains affordable for Australians,” he says.

“Our farmers must be able to continue their important work, and regional economies that pose little to no COVID-19 risk must be allowed to continue operating. They deserve our full and unwavering support.”