Lifeblood of the community

Coronavirus border closures will not stop Queenslanders getting access to fresh produce

Coronavirus
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Farmers and freight operators will provide a vital lifeline to the broader community during the coronavirus crisis.

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Ross Fraser, Frasers Livestock Transport, Warwick, and fleet manager Mark Collins are relieved that cattle can still be transported.

Ross Fraser, Frasers Livestock Transport, Warwick, and fleet manager Mark Collins are relieved that cattle can still be transported.

FARMERS and freight operators will provide a vital lifeline to the broader community during the coronavirus crisis.

The agriculture and freight sectors were this week acknowledged as an essential service, with their work transcending strict control measures at state borders.

Queensland Farmers Federation president Allan Dingle said the declaration that agriculture was an essential service shone a light on the importance of the industry.

He said coronavirus was just another challenge and farmers were well equipped to deal with it.

"Fresh produce is being harvested on a daily basis, and it's no different to any other day," Mr Dingle said.

"We have gone through a whole myriad of issues from drought to flooding rain, low commodity prices, high electricity and water prices.

"We look forward to the challenage to keep providing quality produce, food and fibre to Queensland, Australia, and indeed, a lot of places around the world.

"It shines a light on agriculture and its improtance, people do take us for granted at times, and they do take quality fresh food and fibre as a given.

Mr Dingle said labour shortages would be a challenge for harvesting some intensive horticulture crops, however, assured the public that produce will get to market.

Queensland Trucking Association CEO Gary Mahon said all freight was clear to run across all borders, with a few extra procedures in place that may slightly slow down distribution.

"Between Queensland and New South Wales it should run relatively freely, with an RBT type checkpoint, but we expect to be waved through relatively freely.

"At this stage we expect imports and exports to pick up a bit, with shipping to provide a reasonable pulse into the system.

"Volumes are up in some areas like supermarkets and the like, and regional communities can expect a reliable supply over the next period unless government changes the rules again.

"At this stage we expect freight to continue both for food and supply replenishment, but also other goods, with agriculture, livestock and general freight, over size and over mass loads to keep the mines going.

"The best description is business as ususal with additional good COVID-19 protocol.

"We shoudl remember our truckies are also frontline and working day and night to ensure our communities are well supplied, as well as critical export and livestock movements are maintained.

"We are all in this together."

AgForce Queensland general president Georgie Somerset said running out of fresh food was one thing Australian's would not have to worry about during the pandemic.

"Clearly, access to a sure and affordable supply of fresh food is essential to maintaining community health and cohesion," Mrs Somerset said.

"We truly are the lucky country when it comes to feeding ourselves, producing three times as much food as we need.

"Australians can rest assured that our farmers are doing their bit.

"Farmers hope our reassurances about the country's food security will encourage people to return to their regular shopping habits, safe in the knowledge that there is more than enough for everybody."

Warwick Fraser, of Frasers Livestock Transport, said cattle would continue to be moved around the state.

"There is already a lot of stress out there - a grounding of trucks would mean empty supermarkets and abattoirs and nobody wants that," Mr Fraser said.

"Trucks are one of the most important links in the national freight task so it was critical they be marked an essential service.

"As the saying goes, without trucks, Australia stops - but with trucks on the move supermarkets, abattoirs - the list goes on, will be able to keep their doors open."

The story Lifeblood of the community first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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