A severe labor shortage continues to plague New South Wales farmers are heading for what should be one of the best crops in 90 years.
So, in an innovative attempt to help growers, thousands staff will soon be able to take five days off to fill shortages caused by restrictions at national and international s.
The workforce issues follow other recent challenges for the sector, including drought, bushfires and data mouse plague in northeast Australia .
New South Wales Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the public service initiative was one of many measures that the state government was trying to tackle the big problem of labor shortages. Toole said it was the first time he had heard of such a project.
"We can have a bumper crop, but if you can't pull the crops out ... it's going to have a huge impact on farmers," the leader said on Thursday newly elected NSW Nationals. drive a harvester - we're just trying to get the bodies off the ground so we can help our farmers right now who need this support. "
Those who work for the regional department of New South Wales, which includes the local land service and the department of primary industry, will be eligible for the program.
Up to 80% of the staff working for the NSW Regional Department are based in the regions and it is estimated that over 4,500 workers will be eligible.
Toole said he was sure many 'them would be ready to lend a hand.
"We know a lot of people who have family and friends who own or work in firm, so I expect there to be a reasonable turnout for people to go and help those who are really desperate for this support right now, ”he said.
The program will cost the farmer nothing and will work the same as employees. access leave to do volunteer work.
"These workers pcan volunteer to help with any harvest, anywhere in the state - from harvesting blueberries in Coffs Harbor, oranges and table grapes in the Riverina and Murray, to cherries in the center-west or helping to bring in a bumper grain harvest, "said the deputy prime minister.
The president of the farmers 'association of NSW James Jackson said any effort at Bowls After harvest labor was welcome, but the initiative was unlikely to actually reduce the shortage.
"We have highlighted the urgent need to improve access to harvest workers for weeks now, and it will certainly help, but cherry growers, for example, need workers for five weeks, not one Jackson said.
"There is a shortage of at least 10,000 farm workers this season and it is because of the Covid restrictions we have put in place. up. "
Farmers in NSW want the government to consider testing on-farm quarantine for double-vaccinated international workers.
Civil servants aren't the only ones called on to help producers crippled by labor shortages, with retired soldiers also being asked to trade in their fatigues for equipment agriculture and volunteering t heir to skills.