The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) has thrown its support behind a number of financial commitments outlined in the country's federal budget.
Following Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's budget speech last night (2 March), the recently-formed AFPA said the fresh produce sector would benefit from funding dedicated to infrastructure, employment and market access.
AFPA CEO Michael Rogers said planned investments in Australia’s transport infrastructure, outlined in the budget, were key to increasing the country’s global competitiveness and delivering Australia’s produce to the domestic and export markets.
Meanwhile, the development of an Agriculture Workforce Strategy is set to encourage more Australians into seasonal work and increase the uptake of the Seasonal Worker Programme, helping to meet peak harvest labour requirements.
“Industry is developing a reliable, productive and diverse workforce as part of the long-term sustainable growth of the industry,” Rogers said. “The new funding for agriculture and horticulture workforce initiatives will help farmers continue building local expertise and meeting the unique seasonal harvest requirements of fresh produce – picking fruit and vegetables when it is ready.”
Rogers said commitments outlined in the budget also provide the first steps towards increasing Australia’s fresh produce exports.
“The funding allocated for [improving] market access must also be supported by a whole of government approach backed by skilled negotiators and scientists, to deliver new market access for industry.”