States work to move produce across borders

THE Victorian and New South Wales governments say they are working together to ensure the agriculture industry can continue to operate while the border between the two states is closed.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes and NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said they would work through any issues that arose to ensure farmers and agribusinesses could continue get their produce to markets.

This includes a declaration from the NSW government that agriculture, freight and logistics are “critical services”.

Ms Symes said Victoria was working closely with federal and NSW counterparts to ensure freight movements across the border could continue and our agricultural products could be delivered to market shelves across Victoria.

Mr Marshall said agriculture was critical to both states and to the country, “which is why we’ll be working to make sure there’s minimal to no disruption to this essential sector”.

Victorian Farmers Federation president, David Jochinke this week sought “urgent conversations” with ministers and government agencies in both states to ensure the border closure did not affect the agriculture industry or supply chain.

“Our industry is a critical service and this is clearly acknowledged in this public order,” he said.

“Importantly, given the circumstances more broadly for Victoria, it is our industry that will be pivotal to the economic recovery of our state.

“Victoria’s regional economy is worth $76 billion.

“Our overall importance in that context must not be underestimated.”

The border closed at 11.59pm Wednesday to stop the spread of coronavirus, with Victorians able to apply online via the Service NSW website for exemptions to move between the two states.

Permits are also available for emergency services, medical or hospital care, freight and commercial workers and mining, construction, energy and manufacturing workers.

Both governments are also working to ensure regulatory requirements continue to be met, including animal welfare practices and biosecurity requirements.

The extent of any effects to agricultural industries will become clearer as details of how the border closure will operate are worked through.

Updates will be made to coronavirus.vic.gov.au and nsw.gov.au/covid-19.

To apply for a permit, visit service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-covid-19-nsw-border-entry-permit.

On Thursday morning Queensland announced Victorian truck drivers entering carrying freight would require border passes to be renewed every seven days.