Plenty of pickers available for Queensland harvest season

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Media Release

Growers will have no trouble sourcing labour for this season’s harvest with the Queensland Government working closely with industry and labour hire companies to ensure farm workers are readily available.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said economic modelling based on survey data and advice from labour hire companies confirmed the required workforce was on hand and keen to start.

“Our agricultural sector needs workers, whether they be local or coming interstate, to guarantee a steady supply of fresh produce,” Mr Furner said.

“At a time when so many people are looking for work, there is major demandin Wide Bay, including the Bundaberg area, with its significant production of tomatoes, capsicums, sweet potatoes and avocados.

“This region is going to need about 3000 people each month all the way through to the end of the year.

“Likewise, there will be strong demand of about 2000 pickers and packers per month to bring in strawberries in the Moreton Bay, Caboolture, Wamuran, Beerwah and Glasshouse Mountains area.”

Mr Furner said other key areas of peak demand will be in Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday, specifically around Bowen, and also for the citrus harvest in the Wide Bay and Central Queensland regions, specifically the Gayndah/Mundubbera area as well as Emerald.

“The avocado harvest will need people in the Wide Bay and Atherton Tablelands, and later in the year we’ll see the start of the mango harvests in the Far North,” Mr Furner said.

The survey to determine workforce needs was conducted by Queensland peak horticulture body, Growcom in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

“Finding the right people, in the right place and at the right time has always proven problematic for horticulture. Coronavirus has only magnified this challenge,” Growcom CEO David Thomson said.

“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 the residents of regional towns.

“For this reason, 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.

“While there are lots of people seeking harvesting employment, people should not just turn up to farms unannounced. They should go through formal hiring networks like Jobs Finder Queensland and HarvestTrail.”

Other job seeker options are listed at business.qld.gov.au/covid19-agriculture.

Under the newly-announced backpacker framework for Queensland, growers now have specific directions on how to manage their incoming workforce and meet health and safety requirements during the ongoing COVID-19 response.

If you are employing only Queensland residents who are working near their home and staying in their permanent residence, it is not mandatory to have a workplace health management plan but you are still encouraged to have one in place.

If workers are entering Queensland and they have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days, they must self-quarantine at their own expense for 14 days before commencing work.

We have developed this information to help guide growers:

business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/coronavirus-support/seasonal-workers-covid19.

The Queensland Government acknowledges that agricultural, fisheries and forestry businesses are essential, and we continue to support them as we work together throughout the COVID-19 response.