Horticulture, Backpackers, Labour, Covid-19, Harvest, Celery, Seasonal Workers, Agriculture

Horticulture, Backpackers

Veg growers dump $150,000 worth of celery crops due to picker shortage

Veg growers dump $150,000 worth of celery crops due to picker shortage

16 hours ago

Veg growers dump $150,000 worth of celery crops due to picker shortage

Growers in Victoria's Lindenow Valley have dumped crops due to a drastic shortage of seasonal workers caused by the COVID-19 travel bans.

Horticulture industry facing a critical labour shortage."We really do rely on our seasonal workers and at this stage the Victorian Government seems to be blocking any discussion about quarantining our seasonal workers in regional areas," Australian Vegetable and Potato industry chair Bill Bulmer said.

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"It's a sad statement to say, but with JobSeeker and JobKeeper the locals don't seem to want to take up the manual labour."The standard wage for casual workers is around $27 per hour, so it's a reasonable pay for unskilled labour. So it's

not an issue of not paying enough money."This is an issue we've spoken about for the last seven months … but it's getting to the critical point where we're right in the peak season … where we just don't have the labour to utilise the crop potential in the Lindenow Valley." headtopics.com

Worker shortage a 'political football'Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien said a delayed harvest could lead to vegetable price rises for consumers."The frustrating thing is that other states have been able to resolve this problem and our Government is only starting to talk about it," he said.

"Every single day this Government delays a solution we are seeing thousands and thousands of dollars worth of crops being ploughed into the ground."East Gippsland MP Tim Bull, Kane Busch, Victorian Opposition leader Michael O'Brien and Nationals MP Danny O'Brien inspect the dumped celery crop in Lindenow.

(ABC Gippsland: Peter Somerville)In a statement, Victoria's Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas said growers are encouraged to seek advice from Agriculture Victoria about the financial incentives available to help attract workers."Quite clearly it's become a back and forth between the feds and the states, and ultimately the farmers are sick of it," Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano said.

"We lost about 20 per cent of our crop on our farm, just based on the fact that those workers weren't available to us."Around the state we're going to see that in larger commodity groups."In the Sunraysia we've got table grapes coming on, and then in the Goulburn Valley with stone fruit, pears, and apples and things like that. headtopics.com

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"There's no question that we're going to have some serious shortages. We've got farmers that are looking for 120 workers, 200 workers, at a hit."So there is definitely a problem and definitely no solutions in sight because, despite all the things industry has put up as options, we haven't seen anything get across the line."

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Damn Anyone who is suggesting forced labour, scrapping minimum wage, or child labour can go back to pre-industrial England. We live in a capitalist country. Supply and demand say you pay people more. It's not hard. That is just sad. Poor farmers! That’s only 1 workers fortnightly pay isn’t it? Veg growers dump celery due the Colesworth monopoly depriving growers of sufficient revenue to pay a living wage. fixedit

So if they paid 25 ppl $2000 a week for 2weeks to pick the crop they’d still be $50000 in front 🤷🏼‍♂️ Senior Liberal: The market will drive pay and we know the market is never wrong. To everyone else since forever. Guess they could pay decent wages. Pay Australian workers the correct wage and he wouldn't have to lose any stock. Pay backpackers $10 an hour minus any rent, because they usually live on site, and now you have no one.

I hate celery, so im not to concerned, it wouldn't faze me if i never seen anoth brussel sprout either 🤢🤢 Thank god, I hate celery. The Federal Government has has 12 months to get this fixed, and it failed. No story should say ScottMorrisonMP still on holiday refuses to give piece workers and farm labourers guaranteed minimum wage and conditions AlboMP JEChalmers theDrum TheProjectTV auspol

That’s why their freaking out because no one will accept their rates. Just the poor pickers from overseas that are too scared to speak out. Govt need to monitor it closely. Veg Growers end up having to dump crops that they could have had picked had they paid decent wages. So why don’t they advertise for people to come and pick and pay for their own on farm. I’d be up for that.

I thought slavery was done? What if uni students worked between semesters or in their gap year in return for a reduction in their fees. Pay a competitive wage or F*** OFF Right, but does this matter? Why should unintended consequences of our covid policy matter. That's my understanding: this wickedly infectious & deadly virus is such that all other considerations pale next to it. We are so grateful and relieved that this doesn't bear mentioning.

Guess he couldn't get anyone to work for $4 an hour. Poor bastard lol Something is not.adding up here. There isnt a shortage, more a lack of decent pay and conditions. Supermarkets are equally at fault. Let’s keep paying job seeker ! Could they have donated the celery to food charities? JoshFrydenberg , There is something seriously wrong if our farmers need to waste crops due to no workers being available, Josh can’t there be an incentive plan to get people out to do this work? farmers suffer enough as it is , waste is bad

Get work for the dole to pick it Farmers all of a sudden are faced with having to pay livable wages. It's not a worker shortage, it's a slave shortage. Bullshit...if they paid a decent wage to do this work, this would not be the story... I don't know why but I am also suspicious that a $150,000 loss gets fed into a tax dodge...

Workers will travel anywhere to work if they get paid really well. Mining is a classic example. A farm is a business. Offer great pay and conditions and you will get your workers. How many pickers for how long would be needed to pick $150,000 worth of celery? FatherBob FatherBob do you agree a lot of this could be avoided if tax threshold changes were reversed, conditions standardised so that backpackers could return. Leaves people with the impression that the beginning of this crisis is a little manifest,even though the consequences aren’t?

It's almost as if an often marginalized labor is actually important. MorpheusBeing As with other Growers of Apples, Oranges, Strawberries etc.... why didn’t they advertise to: Pick your own & pay for produce at a lower rate, contact Food Banks & other charities? If going to dump that amount $’s, there are other beneficial community options.

Could have dried it out and turn it into celery salt. If they paid decent wages they'd never have a shortage, though if these farmers weren't getting screwed by Woolies and Coles they might be more likely to pay better wages. FatherBob Just had a look on Seek and there are very few Farm Labour jobs listed, seems like another BS story.

That's ok i hate celery it's not worth $150,000 if it's still in the ground. Farmers who want slave labour can get fvcked. Pay proper wages and conditions and plenty of people will work for them This has to do 100% with covid and the travel restrictions. Usually they would have backpackers and what not. They dont have that luxury this year.

Then they shouldn’t pay $4per hour. Maybe people don’t like being deliberately rorted for someone else’s profits. In the late 90s you could go do a fruit picking season or two and you would make money. You could meet backpackers from overseas & save. Some smart couples bought vans and followed the seasonal work & saved for uni or house deposit. 1/2

Didn’t jobkeeper replace salary? Farmers have, through dodgey labour hire companies, been relying on poorly paid foreign labour for years. Covid-19 has brought their chickens home to roost. This is where cruel racist policies get you. Remember all the workers he gov. abandoned in a pandemic because they weren’t “citizens.”

Good, I hate celery 😁 On the meantime; thousands of locals on jobseeker and under-wage job offers for immigrants! I hope they loose another 150k by the end of the week! Any system that relies on worker exploitation is abhorrent. AusLiberalParty & other neolibs & so called 'Conservatives' seek to suppress all opposition to their endless greed. People WILL work but not for an arbitrary pittance. auspol

You mean $3800 a week is not enough to attract pickers? Maybe D_LittleproudMP and channel 9 can shed some light ... auspol Pay proper wages, simple. No sympathy from me when I pay a premium price, if farmers are getting shafted by Coles etc blame the co-ops they created and blame the party they keep voting in.

Who eats that shit anyway Pay the pickers properly .... and they will come .... not slave labour rates I can source 100+ Agricultural workers from Offshore if they can secure a visa travel permission and pay the award rates including travel AWU Is it possible the growers can't compete with jobseeker or dole?

It has nothing to do with the jobseeker/keeper rates. It has to do with Australians being treated badly by farmers in favour of cheaper workers, unlovable wages, unstable work, accommodation costs - so many reasons people won’t pick. Stop demonising the poor Start by paying award wages ! $27/hr might seem reasonable but take out hostel/lodgings + food cost and its a pittance unless of course the farm can provide these?

Pay pickers more - isn't that how capitalism works? This is seriously awful. So farmers are willing to dump product and whinge about it, but aren’t prepared to pay decent wages. Says everything about their mentality Disgraceful and wasteful Give this to hospitals and ma me good use and not just throw away? Idiots

Should have offered a living wage then Terrible Maybe they should pay above minimum wage Why not get the politicians from Canberra to go to these farms and pick the crops. They’re a lazy bunch of no hopers and whinges, always on holidays. More bullshit & lies - stop underpaying & ripping off pickers and you might find more people doing it.

Sad to hear this I see a government scheme in the future. Fruit Keeper. The government flys people to the regions and pays them a living wage to do this horrible work. Na. Too much trouble. Just label all young people lazy and do nothing as usual. Send more ( young, pretty, female, vulnerable) backpackers!

Pay a fair wage then! but muh slaves Because the pickers want a salary for picking the celery. Why waste food when so many people are going hungry? That really pissed me off. Just dump a load off at your local market with a sign saying FREE PLEASE TAKE AS MUCH AS YOU LIKE! If you were a good employer you would have employees. Pay a liveable wage.

Tax write off...the PAYE taxpayers will end up paying. Could this have fed livestock in drought affected areas? Propaganda. Tell the real story. Pay fair wages I pay $2 for bunch of celery in Coles so how can 50,000 plants be worth $150,000 plus an additional $50,000 of costs to get there ? What a disgraceful system we uphold for our lifestyle …🤬capitalism☠️☠️☠️

An absolute disgrace, wasted food, increased prices for consumers, food shortages and several pacific island nations going broke but with willing workforce. anyone both to check fair work for wage rates? $24.80/hr plus penalty rates. He's also likely to be subject to yearly ethical trader audits that include pay rates and random staff interviews. A complex issues that's not helped by short sightedness

Can I still make a Waldorf salad? That’s terrible. Think of all the food wastage. Of all the people who go hungry. Stop ripping off the pickers then...would you work for 3$ an hour ? Feed ? Do they just leave it where it is? Or do they now stilmm on have to ‘pick’ it to dump it? Omg....this unbelievable!!!

I’m not interested in breaking my back for $10 an hour...who would be? So exploitation is not working for you now? Cancel JobKeeper No one talks about these indirect impacts of covid. In a world where thousands are going to sleep in hunger in so many refugee camps ,even with best efforts vegetables getting wasted. Covid has been a curse for humanity...

Free markets gonna free market yo. Tell him to pick up a Tennis Racquet, Dan will give him anything if he did. Due to being unable to pay below award wages - They could have paid better wages. Indians spotted I know people that wanted to do picking, couldn’t find out where to go, couldn’t find out how to get there, couldn’t find accommodation. Got onto someone who told them they couldn’t do it because they weren’t on the dole.

Oh. What a shame... said no child ever. This is how a free market economy works. Once the price paid for labour hits the price workers are willing to provide labour you have a market that works. This is how laissez faire economics functions and conservative govts beloved by farmers supports it. Can I ask , what’s the going rate for the pickers . I’m hearing different rates

And we have ppl starving They obviously don’t pay enough to attract suitable employees! haha maybe they should start employing Australians.....with a decent wage. i live in the country and it's impossible to find farm work. The market will work it out. Wages will rise or celery prices will rise. Big deal.

It’s all based on an unrealistic and exploitative employment model. Add ‘Down, Down, The Prices are Down’ and you have the perfect shit storm that it is. Hey M_McCormackMP is the PM who (apparently) stands up for Aus Ag. Instead of doing useless press interviews 'encouraging' people to work in the farms, if only he had actually put together a sensible policy to support our farmers..

Where.. We. Buy 7 bunches a week.. I can come pickup 👍👍 Why not give it away rather than dumping ? Cheap prices, eh? I’m sure all you supermarket shoppers are going to really love buying imported, fresh food from third world countries in the next decade or so. Hello E. coli, Lysteria, faecal coliforms and chemical residues. Careful what you wish for.

Pay your workers the minimum wage at least. Isn't this why farmers use backpackers? Cheap labor. Didn,t over 2000 people apply for these jobs!!? Most all were knocked back. Are they willing to pay decent wages? This is why you pay workers an hourly rate and not an annual celery There isn't a picker shortage. They won't pay a fair wage and increase prices.

End Jobkeeper now FatherBob Imagine if they paid them a living wage, though? Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Oh cool, taxpayer-funded supposedly independent media, ABC Online just another PR wing for ScoMo and his gimps. Celery sucks!!!! I am glad it is gone FatherBob If only celery pickers could play tennis they would get a entry into Australia - positive covid test and all! Aint that right DanielAndrewsMP TennisAustralia LisanevilleMP? MoneyTalks

You can’t pay a living wage and have to rely on taking advantage of foreign workers to keep your business viable then you are not really viable. Welcome to capitalism, this is not communism. Isn't there unemployed in the area. Make it mandatory for lazy people to work for money. Not work for the dole work instead of dole. Offer them the work if they don't take it no dole easy.

'The Federal Government announced a $1 million scheme' There's your problem... Everyone now knows that, once Scotty announces something, he'll engineer it so it's too hard to apply, & it pays out very little. A bit like the Bushfire Recovery Fund Why are we seeing no analysis of why farmers cannot afford to pay decent wages? Is it because of inadequate prices offered by the retail oligopolies, against the threat of imports, leaving farmers with nowhere else to go?

There's a solution to this Have they tried paying proper wages? Something to think about. Pay the market rate. ScottMorrisonMP M_McCormackMP that’s how free markets work. AlboMP All because the government wants to scrue everyone over by taking away our freedom. Thanks a lot. Pay people a decent wage to do it and they will. It's almost like the current economic model doesn't work out something.

Pay a liveable wage Maybe they should pay minimum wages Country people vote National, who bang on about socialism and free markets. So how about you act like the free market capitalists you claim to be and pay enough to attract people to work there? And if you can’t pay that , maybe your business plan sucks?

All those double dole people staying at home are free. ScottMorrisonMP Good! That stuff is putrid Pay proper wages Still cheaper than paying people a decent living wage with fair conditions, I’m starting to think, FXXK THE FARMERS, ‘you reap what you sow!’ Why work when the government is always handing out free tax payer money!!!!

. Don't let farmers off the hook. Just because downstream retailers push for sharper prices does not excuse their treatment of pickers. . the abc is so complicit in spreading this ungrateful worker narrative. for months it was all over tv with famers giving sob stories about how they can't enslave workers

pay. people. more. and. they'll. come. Wouldn’t have been worth offering decent wages to pick it - you still may have made a profit or even avoided that loss. I suspect you didn’t want to set a precedent ABCFactCheck? 🤔🤔🤔 'Stock' below average story. The world upside down. Then you hear things like Australia is facing a problem to feed the increasing population 🤷‍♂️

Oh look O'Brien has come to save the farmers with a photo op. Because the growers of the farm paid them the workers unfair wages, that’s why, who the he’ll wants to work $5 an hour The way of capitalism.. You don’t pay a fair wage, you don’t get the workers you need.. But that is if you want them!! Should have upped the wages then the workers will come

Pay fairly. People will come. Farming profession full of risks. Farmers suffer financially if crops get damaged by bad weather or pests and when there are no buyers for bumper crops. Now even COVID restrictions are harming them. In India farm bills will increase their miseries. Considering LiberalAus is trying to implement a new version of Workchoices using COVID as the reason I’m sure he will soon have lots of cheap labour to pick from

Maybe if they paid award rates things might be different! I went grape-picking in Mildura years ago and was paid $0.38 a bucket before tax. I lived in a shed with 12 other backpackers. Fun was had but I now have bills to pay. Hard pass. Dumping the crop, but still drawing their water allocation I see...

You mean, they didn't want to pay a fair wage. Chop it, make mire poix, freeze it, market it, win. ..be kind of supermarkets to sell celery at reduced prices to help out the growers a little and the consumers a lot. Maybe the business model of exploiting itinerant workers was unsustainable? Sucks to not have backpackers to exploit

Pay decent wages then! Well if they paid people a living wage to pick the crops they wouldn’t be in this situation. I’d pay more for veggies, so they can pay decent wages. coles is selling celery at $3.50 a bunch. are you telling me the farmer is getting $3 a bunch, and that coles is somehow making a profit on that $0.50 after transport, storage, paying their own workers, etc? bullshit.

Just imagine all the celery they could have if they hadn't come to rely on cheap imported labour I'm absolutely sure that the three Opposition MPs shown kneeling in the field of dumped celery had the solution to Mr Busch's problem. Slaves labour unavailable? How sad. Perhaps a few LNP pollies will roll up their sleeves and give him a hand.

So they'd rather lose $150k in crops than pay a fair and legal wage to their workers. Maybe supermarkets should be trickling down more than slave wages mikeaubrey2 You should investigate price gouging policies of big supermarkets. They screw farmer on product price, force use of their distribution, marketing, at above market rates, supplier must pay shelf rent, merchandise staff, mark downs etc. That's the story here. I dare you.

No farmers. No society. Perhaps, just perhaps, if they paid even barely the minimum wage then people may work for them? Crazy thought, I know. 🙄 Pay the proper wages and let people chose their own accommodation and maybe this wouldn’t be happening. Stop exploitation by farmers and pay a fair wage OzHarvest will grab it, don’t dump it, it’s anti inflammatory!!!

Pick it yourself Yet again, the government shows how slow they are. No slaves, no harvest. This is the result of decades of neo liberal ideology... Imagine if they'd paid proper wages.... Fixed the heading: 'Vegetable growers fail to offer pay and conditions needed to attract workers. Dump $150,000 worth of celery crops due to shortage of business skills in the new COVID19 'normal'.' via PSomervilleABC ABCRural

Lmao should've paid for Australian workers. Get rekt loser Oh no, all the celery juice 😭