I’ve just spent a few days in Central Otago visiting summerfruit growers with Nadine Tunley, Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) chief executive, and attending a series of HortNZ workshops on farm environment plans. Thanks to everyone who hosted us during our visit and sharing your views with us. We heard about the challenges that growers are facing in attracting a sufficient workforce this summer, and the uncertainty you face with the potential risk of Covid-19 emerging in the region during the summer.
Yesterday the Government announced further industry vaccination mandates and set out the process for non-mandated workforces. I understand that packhouses and orchards will not have a mandate requiring a fully vaccinated workforce but can use a vaccination assessment tool to support employers in their decision to require vaccination for different types of work. For packhouses, due to the proximity and nature of your operations, your risk assessment should allow you to require vaccination of all your employees.
I am seeking more clarity from the Government on how these changes will affect the summerfruit industry, given that you are so close to your harvest period. For more details, which are quickly evolving, on the risk assessment and other important information for growers and packhouses, click here.
Thanks also to Trudi and Simon Webb for hosting Ray Smith, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director general, during his recent visit to Central Otago. Photo kindly provided by MPI.