Farmers say ‘calm your farm’ to panic buyers
Farmers are urging consumers to 'calm their farm' when it comes to buying fresh produce.
With a run on everything from toilet paper to pasta, fresh produce has also been the target of some panic buyers.
They say there is no need to fear food shortages in Australia as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
NSW Farmers' Vice President Chris Groves said farmers in NSW and across the country are busy doing what they do best - producing local food and fibre.
"The hens are still laying eggs, the dairy cows are still being milked, grain growers are preparing winter crops, orchards are still bearing fruit and Australian farmers are still producing the world's best produce.," Mr Groves said.
"This unprecedented event will have an impact on our export markets, which take around 75 per cent of what farmers produce, but Australians can be assured that there will be more than enough food for them.
"We don't rely on any other country to feed us. We want consumers to keep in mind both rice and wheat are grown here in New South Wales along with the vast majority of our fruit and vegetables. There's no need to panic if there's no rice or pasta on supermarket shelves."
Local farmer and Director of the NSW Farmers Paul Shoker has echoed these sentiments.
"I have heard stories of people buying bananas freezing them but it isn't needed as the government is not going to shut down supermarkets. There is more than enough of everything. there is no need to rush."
While he says there is plenty to go around there is work still to be done to ensure the continuity of agricultural supply chains as COVID-19 lockdowns are put in place.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the NSW Government has provided reassurance that business continuity in agriculture is a priority for food security as part of plans for further potential lockdowns.
"Grain growers in NSW are coming in to a critical time of year with the first reasonable chance to plant a winter crop in the last three or more years for many," Mr Jackson said.
"Similarly, livestock enterprises are also at a key stage as farmers look to restock or to shear wool and horticultural enterprises are busy harvesting crops such as apples and bananas."
Dairy, egg, pork and poultry farmers produce product on a daily and weekly basis and he says there is no off switch on their production and it needs to get to consumers regularly.
"Ensuring continuity will be essential to ensure our fresh food supply chain remains dependable through this health and economic crisis. We have complex supply chains and dependencies, so careful planning is required to avoid any unforeseen interruptions."
Managing transmission risk
NSW Farmers is also working actively on advice to members on how to manage potential transmission risk in the farm workplace, and similarly through the agricultural supply chains.
"We believe these risks are manageable and social distancing is practical in most farm situations. Farmers understand the importance of biosecurity measures better than anyone, so fresh food supplies are in safe hands," Mr Jackson said.
NSW Farmers has welcomed the recent NSW Government stimulus package, particularly the $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees.
"Farmers, to meet ongoing consumer demand for food and fibre, need certainty of supply from the many small and medium businesses that enable production. This announcement will help many of these critical services including mechanics and fuel suppliers, freight and delivery services and essential inputs to continue."
"The extension of the payroll tax exemption to businesses with payrolls over $10 million for six months will also ease pressure as farmers ramp up production after extended drought."