VFF president calls for calm amid coronavirus panic

By Rodney Woods

It doesn't matter if it's toilet paper, pasta, farm chemicals or veterinary supplies, VFF president David Jochinke said take what you need during this unprecedented time, not what you think you may need in the future.

Mr Jochinke said the coronavirus pandemic had led to a demand issue, but supply would not run out.

“As soon as trade is restricted and we have to rely on one country over another, the ripple goes through the industry,” he said.

“We're not asking people to hoard, we're not asking them to go down the what ifs, we are asking them to understand what they need.

“Supply is coming but it's restricted so if you take what you need then there will be enough for others.

“No one wins if people are hoarding.”

While horticulturists could potentially lose pickers due to the Federal Government's decision to close Australia's borders to all non-residents, ««14-day isolation period when entering the country,»» Mr Jochinke said the season was nearly over so the impact would not be so severe.

“One thing is fruit picking is at the end of the season — there are still vegetables ... still to be picked.

“If people are requiring labour or waiting on it, there is an opportunity for people in Australia to fill the jobs that won't be filled by regular sources."

While Mr Jochinke admitted the infection risk for COVID-19 may not be as large for farmers who are outside and often working alone or in small groups, he still urged farmers to follow the advice of chief health officers in terms of personal hygiene.