New South Wales Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole said the public services initiative was one of many measures the state government has tried to address to address a major labor shortage. Toole said this was the first time he had heard of such a scheme.
“We may have a record harvest, but if you can’t harvest … it will have a huge impact on farmers,” the NSW Nationals’ newly elected leader said Thursday.
“It might just be a pursuer bunker or a harvester – we’re just trying to get the bodies to the ground to help our farmers who need this support right now.”
Those who work in the NSW Regional State Department, which includes the local land administrations and the Primary Industry Department, will be eligible to participate in this scheme.
Up to 80% of the staff working in the NSW Regional State Department is based in the regions, and it is estimated that over 4,500 staff will be eligible for the program.
Toole said he was confident that many of them would be willing to lend a helping hand.
“We know a lot of people who have relatives and friends who own or work on farms, so I expect people to find a smart solution to go out and help those who really desperately need this support right now,” he said.
This scheme will be free of charge to the farmer and will operate in the same way as employees taking leave to volunteer.
“These workers can volunteer to help with any crop anywhere in the state, from picking blueberries in Coffs Harbor, oranges and table grapes in Riverine and Murray, to cherries in the Central West, or helping to get a bumper crop of cereals,” the deputy prime minister said.
New South Wales Farmers Association President James Jackson said any effort to increase yields is welcome, but the initiative is unlikely to seriously affect the deficit.
“We have emphasized the urgent need to improve access to cleaners said Jackson, said Jackson, said Jackson.
“There are at least 10,000 harvesting shortages this season and this is due to the Covid restrictions we have put in place.”
New South Wales farmers want the government to consider testing an on-farm quarantine for double-vaccinated foreign workers.
Civil servants are not the only ones being called upon to help farmers suffering from labor shortages, retired soldiers are also being encouraged to change their uniforms for agricultural equipment and volunteer to use their skills.