Food security and agriculture and COVID-19

May 15, 2020

by The Department of Agriculture

Our agricultural sectors play an important role in Australia's food security. Feeding our nation is an essential service.

We’re making sure there’s food on the table for all Australians.

Products will continue to be delivered to supermarkets. Do not hoard food. Stay calm and know Australian agriculture will be there for you.

On this page

Food safety

Our agricultural produce is safe and clean.

You can be assured that food you buy has met strong Australian food safety standards.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through food. This is supported by advice from Australian and international food safety organisations.

Read more on COVID-19 and food safety (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand).

Always practice good hygiene when preparing and handling food. Read hygiene advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Production and supply

We are one of the most food secure nations in the world.

Australia is a major food producer. Much of what we eat is home grown. We also grow enough to export.

Across our agricultural systems, the people we rely on to keep us fed are managing their production, their water and their supply chains to keep that going.

Exports

We consistently produce far more than we consume.

This means we can also contribute to the food security of other nations through exports. We export 70% of our agricultural production.

We are also supporting exporters during COVID-19.

Imports

Imported food represents about 16% of household consumption. This includes highly processed fruit and vegetables, chocolate, coffee, pasta and rice. Some are in high demand at the moment.

Food imports are still subject to existing biosecurity and imported food requirements. We are working to ensure they are cleared through the border as quickly as possible while ensuring these regulations are met.

Read more about imports and COVID-19.

Water for food

There is enough water for agriculture in Australia. Irrigated agriculture uses about 60% of the water available for human use.

Water is managed to ensure we can continue to have enough for food production.

Read more about water and food production in Australia.

Essential services

To slow the outbreak, Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential gatherings and businesses.

Essential services will continue. This includes:

  • farming
  • forestry
  • fibre production
  • food and beverage production
  • agriculture saleyards and auctions

Also exempt are those who support these businesses.

If you are unsure check restrictions on non-essential services.

All businesses must follow advice from the Department of Health and the relevant state and territory governments.

Also consider if livestock sale yards and wool auctions can be held online or remotely.

State and territory border restrictions

Several states and territories have announced a range of border measures in response to COVID-19.

States and territories know the importance of maintaining agriculture, food and fibre supply chains and moving goods around Australia.

Services that support agriculture are exempt from border restrictions.

Check the latest updates at interstatequarantine.org.au.

Workforce needs

Health and safety

If you are an employer, you must put in place control measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19. Even if this delays your production workflow.

It is essential that all staff adhere to these measures.

See advice on:

Jobs

We are looking at how seasonal workers can meet the needs of the sector.

The Australian Government has made temporary changes to visa arrangements. This helps farmers and food producers access the workforce they need through:

Looking for work on a farm? Don’t contact farms directly. Find harvest jobs.

Industry contact

Mark Tucker is our Senior Agriculture Industry Engagement Officer, and a single point of contact for stakeholders.

Find out what is happening and how you can get involved.

Need help?

We provide support to farmers and farm business in times of hardship.

See available support services 

Resources

The post about “Food security and agriculture and COVID-19" appeared first on the Department of Agriculture website.

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