ABGC directors and senior staff met for their quarterly Board meeting via videoconference last week.
Worker shortages were again a major topic of discussion at the meeting along with other significant industry issues.
The ABGC is continuing to do everything possible to consult with growers and advocate for positive outcomes for industry, particularly when it comes to the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Program (SWP).
Any new developments will be communicated to growers via the new Workplace Shortage Issue webpage on our website, as well as through e-bulletins and SMS.
Addressing worker shortage issues is, and continues to be, the main priority of the ABGC.
Two senior members from the Office of the Great Barrier Reef (OGBR) attended the board meeting via video link to hear industry concerns over new regulations that will affect new or expanded horticulture activities on land that doesn’t have a cropping history.
In December, the OGBR released a new consultation draft for the regulations and sought feedback at meetings across all reef catchments over the past month, including Lakeland, Innisfail, Tully and Mareeba.
OGBR Director Scott Robinson and Director of Reef Policy Louise Smythe gave directors an outline of the new regulations, before directors voiced further industry concerns with the policy.
The ABGC has lodged a written submission to the OGBR as part of the consultation process. As part of this submission, it has sought exemption from the regulations for farming land in Cape York and also for those growers who want to establish new farms and have Freshcare Environmental accreditation.
The new QBAN scheme – run by industry, for industry – is now in operation. The new scheme was 10 years in the making and resulted from the successful transition from a Biosecurity Queensland run program, to now being jointly administered and resourced by Greenlife Industries Australia (GIA) and the ABGC.
Growers can look forward to receiving quality planting material produced under QBAN which sets the standards and the protocols expected by industry and will be correctly labelled, vigorous, uniform and disease-free and successfully distributed to growers.
A list of all QBAN accredited businesses is available directly from ABGC and will be published in each issue of Australia Bananas magazine.
Despite continued uncertainly over COVID, planning for Congress 2021 remains on track, with the ABGC confident of hosting a successful, COVID safe event in Cairns from May 12-14.
Registrations opened on February 12 with the Early Bird rate and ‘Win Your Way to Congress’ competition open until Monday, 15 March. More on this later in the e-bulletin.