Primary Industries Ministers’ Meeting

Communique—24 April 2020

Primary Industries Ministers discuss COVID-19

Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers met via teleconference today to discuss COVID-19 issues impacting the agriculture sector.

Ministers discussed implementing agricultural workforce mobility, food safety guidance and shared updates and priority issues within their jurisdictions.

Ministers continued discussions on recent progress in implementing agricultural workforce mobility in line with the decisions taken by National Cabinet on 9 April.

Ministers noted industry is working with Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, including by assisting the movement of agricultural workers across regions and states through ensuring requirements such as self-isolation, appropriate accommodation and health requirements are communicated to visa holders and met, where appropriate.

Reference was made to work undertaken by some States and the Commonwealth on airfreight assistance for agricultural produce.

The President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Ms Fiona Simson, provided an update on issues for industry, including efforts to find alternative markets for food usually supplied to restaurants and cafes, where there has been significant disruption due to COVID-19, and to build NFF members’ awareness and understanding of visa holder requirements.

Mr Mark Tucker, Senior Agriculture Industry Engagement Officer, spoke about the industry adjusting to current conditions and also planning for future business operations and emerging opportunities.

Minister Littleproud raised food safety, noting the updated guidance on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website which is the primary source of consistent and nationally current advice on COVID-19 for consumers and food businesses.

Ministers were also updated on discussions at the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting including Australia’s call for evidence-based analysis of wildlife wet markets across the world by the World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Ministers reflected upon the collaborative approach adopted on COVID-19 between Ministers and industry, and the benefits of this approach in effectively and efficiently tackling past and emerging issues for the agriculture industry.

Future discussions

Ministers agreed to meet again in a fortnight.