Growers’ e-bulletin – August 11, 2021


Board meeting 
Worker shortage news
Free nutrient workshop in NQ
Free Banana Race Day tickets
Sustainability framework 
Ag census
Fresh Produce Conference

ABGC Board meeting 

The ABGC’s quarterly Board meeting was held at Mission Beach last week, with a number of Directors, as well as senior staff from Brisbane, joining the two-day conference via video link.

Some of the major points of discussion included;

Grower industry concerns

Directors discussed concerns raised by a number of Cassowary Coast growers at a meeting at South Johnstone on 16 July, where North Queensland-based ABGC directors were also present.

During this meeting, growers cited concerns over banana industry pricing and marketing matters, including a lack of accurate supply chain data and a way forward to improve all.

Five growers also attended last week’s Board meeting to follow up on the issues raised at the July 16 meeting. The growers were assured that Directors had had lengthy discussions about how the ABGC could start to address these concerns and noted several actions that ABGC could progress as a result.

However, Directors also acknowledged that a number of issues were extremely complex, and there were unlikely to be short term solutions to address these concerns.

Industry workforce issues

The ABGC continues to work with growers, Approved Employer groups and relevant government agencies to help improve access to seasonal workers through the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) and Pacific Islander Scheme (PLS). However, there remains severe roadblocks to alleviating worker shortages, including a dire lack of quarantine options and recent changes to working holiday visa arrangements.

The ABGC has called on the Federal Government to reverse a decision which allows backpackers seeking to extend their Working Holiday Maker visa to work, not just on a farm, but also in the tourism and hospitality sectors, across northern and remote Australia.

The ABGC also met with a range of stakeholders to provide member feedback on the future of the SWP/PLS, during a six-week consultation process conducted by the Australian Government, which closed on 18 July. This industry feedback also fed into the NFF Horticulture Council’s submission to the consultation phase.  

The Board also heard that the ABGC’s dedicated Jobs Vacancies page on the ABGC website continues to have a solid visitation rate. In the two months from June 1 – August 1, the page had 1200 views.

TR4 management transition

The transition of Panama TR4 management from government to industry by July 2023 remains on track.

The Board heard that the Transition to Industry Working Group met recently to consider a range of legislative options for future disease management. The Group met with specialists to deliberate on key issues including ease of industry’s understanding of requirements and what elements of control and containment are essential for regulatory compliance.  

The Panama TR4 Program Management Board also recently met with some Innisfail growers to discuss the current TR4 Program and to inform the future direction of TR4 management.  The workshop is part of a broader series of engagements that will be held to gain insight into areas of most concern to growers when devising a control and containment plan.

Torres Strait Disease Control

North Queensland Directors Andrew Serra and Leon Collins gave further updates on their recent visits to islands in the Torres Strait as part of a disease prevention project funded by the Federal Government with contribution from the ABGC.

The project is particularly focussed on surveillance for leaf diseases. Mr Serra and Mr Collins spent time with local landholders and leaders on Boigu and Mer islands sharing their knowledge on controlling disease.

In the Torres Strait, there are no commercial plantations but there are plenty of backyard plantings. 

The Board resolved to continue working with both the State and Federal Governments to continue the ABGC’s extension role in the region to assist with future containment and prevention measures.

Feral Pigs

Industry’s comprehensive Feral Pig Eradication Program in the Tully Valley continues to have remarkable results.

Since July 2017, the ABGC-led program has removed more than 6400 feral pigs from the catchment, including almost 3000 through aerial shooting.

It was acknowledged that it was imperative that the program continue, in order to protect against the spread of TR4. ABGC has requested that unused funding provided by DAF Queensland to the Eradication Program be used to fund further aerial shooting.

More worker shortage news

Ag Visa needed now

ABGC has written to the Prime Minister, as well as the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Agriculture, asking for the implementation of the Ag Harvest Visa this year.  ABGC encourages growers to write to the Government, asking for urgent action to secure a returning workforce.

PLS/SWP info sessions for Mareeba + Innisfail

QDAF and QAWN have developed a PLS/SWP Industry Update Forum to be delivered throughout Queensland, including in Mareeba and Innisfail.

This is an opportunity for people involved with the programs, or wanting to be, to hear the latest developments and ask questions.

·       Atherton Tablelands Industry Update

Tuesday October 5, 9.45am – 2.30pm, Mareeba Leagues Club

·       Innisfail Industry Update

Wednesday October 6, 9.45am – 2.30pm, Innisfail Brothers Leagues Club.

There will be limits on numbers at venues so please reserve your seat ASAP. Simply click on the following link, find your preferred event on the right-hand side of the page and register:

QAWN funding extended

The Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network (QAWN) is being extended to late 2022 with $1.7 million in funding. QAWN is a regional network of industry-based agricultural workforce officers who assist in addressing recruitment and skilling issues. The Far North Queensland contact is Leanne Kruss ( or 0431 743 633).

#pickQLD cash bonus

Cash bonuses of $1500 are on offer from the State Government for jobseekers taking up work on Queensland farms. You can find out more here:

To get in contact with banana growers looking for workers, visit the ABGC’s website:

Free Nutrient Management Workshops for Growers

All growers are invited to register interest in attending upcoming Nutrient Management workshops at South Johnstone.

The workshop covers the Reef Regulations; understanding the signs of nutrient deficiencies, toxicities and diseases in banana plants; interpreting soil and leaf tests; and developing a nutrient management plan. Small groups of up to six growers allow us to provide meaningful and useful tailored experiences for attendees by utilising individualised farm imagery and soil data.

“It’s been awesome! Fantastic for farmers who have limited knowledge and also those who want to bounce ideas!” – Tim (grower)

“Even us older guys who have been around for a while got something from it – always learning.” – Sodhi (grower)

Here is a short video about the workshops delivered so far.

Upcoming workshops at South Johnstone are scheduled for Friday 20th and Wednesday 25th August 12.30-5.00pm. There will also be one on the Tablelands in due course. More workshops may be scheduled depending on the level of interest received.

To attend one of the upcoming workshops or to register your interest, please contact the Best Practice Team via or call Molly on 0419 602 864.

ABGC member? Tickets to Banana Industry Race Day on us!

ABGC is a proud sponsor of the Innisfail Banana Races this weekend and has a limited number of tickets for ABGC members.  If you would like a ticket, contact Amelia on  Numbers are strictly limited (max 2 per member) and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

New Sustainability Framework

Hort Innovation has released the Australian-grown Horticulture Sustainability Framework, a guide to help the horticulture sector share its sustainable, ethical, and safe farming practice stories.  

The framework is designed to provide an opportunity for growers to take an active role in leading the sustainability story across horticulture.

To find out more and to access the framework, go to

Growers urged to complete the Ag Census

Farmers across Australia are being urged to complete the Agricultural Census when they receive it (rollout began in July). Data collected in the survey provides insights on the role of agriculture in Australia and will be used to inform policies on Australia’s agriculture industry and decisions on infrastructure, service delivery and investment. Further information about the Agricultural Census can be found here.

Virtual Fresh Produce Safety Conference 18 August 2021

The Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC) is hosting this year’s Fresh Produce Safety Conference online on 18 August 2021. This year’s conference theme is Future Directions for Produce Safety. Visit the conference website:

The conference will cover topics including:

o   Produce safety: what’s at stake? 

o   Future food safety: new research on environmental impacts on fresh produce food safety

o   Food safety for growers – what’s ahead?

o   Next gen food safety researchers

Conference Partners: Hort Innovation, NSW Food Authority and Perfection Fresh Australia.