National organic industry body Australian Organic is standing with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and calling on the government to recognise agriculture and the food supply chain to be deemed as an essential service, in response to COVID-19 measures.

There are around 2000 certified organic primary producers in Australia, including farmers, graziers, apiarists and wild harvesters.

Australian Organic CEO Niki Ford said the industry body has been in weekly meetings with NFF to support the focus of the agricultural industry, as well as the importance of a reliable food supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NFF is committed to ensuring modern farming is not only viable and sustainable but continues its vital and growing contribution to the nation despite any challenging circumstances,” said Ford.

“The organic agricultural sector makes up a significant portion of the industry, and we will be endeavouring to make sure the needs of organic growers are met during these difficult times.”

NFF president Fiona Simson said the organisation has been in discussions with the government to ensure the agriculture and food supply chain would not be interrupted, despite the closure of travel between some states.

“The continued provision of quality fresh produce is paramount to safeguarding the wellbeing and health of the nation. Our state farming member organisations have been having similar conversations with their state governments,” said Simson.

“We understand a list of essential services may be developed by states. It is absolutely critical that there is consistency across states in the recognition of the importance of food production and the supply chain.

“In our discussions with government, the NFF has reiterated the farm sector’s commitment to playing its vital role in ensuring Australians continue to have access to the quality, fresh groceries they depend on in these uncertain and challenging times.”

Simson said confirmation by states and federal government as a collective that agriculture was an essential service would guarantee measures to control the spread of COVID-19, while ensuring no obstruction to food production and supply. 

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