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Impact of COVID-19 on Australian agriculture

The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. Animal Health Australia is following the advice of the Australian Government Department of Health and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and will keep this page updated as the situation develops.

National Coronavirus Helpline

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1800 020 080

The World Organisation for Animal Health advises that currently there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19. The current spread of COVID-19 is driven by human to human transmission.

There have been no reports of the virus in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

Find answers to frequently asked questions on COVID-19 here.

Information from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Media release: Australia’s food security not in question

Agriculture Minister the Hon. David Littleproud, 14 April 2020.

Key points to note include:

  • ABARES has confirmed Australia has one of the most secure food supplies in the world and is not at risk because of COVID-19.
  • Australia ranks in the top 10% of countries under the Global Food Security Index defined by the World Food Summit.
  • A surge in demand had an impact on the availability of some of our favourite products on supermarket shelves. This is not an indication of food shortages.

Media release: The States and Territories to implement National Cabinet workforce principles

Agriculture Minister the Hon. David Littleproud, 14 April 2020.

Key points to note include:

  • Each jurisdiction set out on how they will implement the necessity for self-isolation, social distancing, hygiene and appropriate accommodation requirement for agricultural visa workers.
  • While there will be variations between individual states and territories each accept their responsibility for implementing the National Cabinet decisions to ensure the health and safety of workers and regional communities.

Media release: Agriculture jobs essential to Australia

Agriculture Minister the Hon. David Littleproud, 26 March 2020.

Key points to note include:

  • Australia’s food production and supply chain will not be affected by coronavirus shutdowns.
  • As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, food production and supply is an essential service.
  • That means State-imposed border shutdowns will not affect agricultural supply chains.

All ministerial media releases from Agriculture Minister the Hon. David Littleproud

Animal Health Committee: Policy statement on COVID-19 diagnostic testing and surveillance in animals – 9 April 2020

Jurisdictional Updates (current as of 25 May 2020)

Australian Capital Territory:

General advice:The ACT has created a dedicated website with the latest information regarding healthcare, businesses and travel arrangements.

Border arrangements: There are no current border arrangements for the ACT.

New South Wales:

General advice: NSW Health has created a portal page detailing COVID-19 response measures and arrangements in NSW.

Livestock producers: NSW Department of Primary Industries has also created a page with updates and FAQs covering the impact of the response on agriculture. Contact the Primary Industries Liaison Team direct at covidinfo@dpi.nsw.gov.au to ask about individual business or industry circumstances.

Border arrangements: There are no current border arrangements in NSW.

Northern Territory:

General advice: The NT has created a dedicated website with advice for communities and businesses.

Livestock producers: This includes specific advice for animal owners (including livestock owners) and small businesses.

Border arrangements: There are border arrangements in place for the NT, including mandatory self-quarantine.

Queensland:

General advice: Queensland have created a resource page for all Queensland residents and visitors with key information about COVID-19 and Queensland’s response.

Livestock producers: This includes specific information for industry and businesses.

Border arrangements: There are border arrangements in place for Queensland.

South Australia:

General advice: SA have launched a landing page for COVID-19 information. This includes specific information for businesses.

Livestock producers: Primary Industries and Regions SA has a dedicated page for COVID-19 impacts on primary industries, including agriculture.

Border arrangements: There are border arrangements in place for SA.

Tasmania:

General advice: Tasmania has a dedicated website for COVID-19 information from state and federal health authorities.

Livestock producers: The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment have a page on COVID-19 impacts for agricultural businesses.

Border arrangements: There are border arrangements in place for Tasmania.

Victoria:

General advice: Victoria has a COVID-19 portal page with health information, travel arrangements and response measures. Victoria has declared a state of emergency.

Livestock producers: Agriculture Victoria has a page which details how response measures impact on primary industries including agriculture.

Border arrangements: There are no current border arrangements for Victoria.

Western Australia:

General advice: WA has a dedicated page for health information and response arrangements for COVID-19. This includes specific advice for businesses and industry

Livestock producers: The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has specific information regarding the COVID-19 response and its impact on agriculture in the state.

Border arrangements: There are border arrangements in place for Western Australia.

G2G PASS: The G2G PASS app is an initiative of the Western Australia Police Force and has been launched to provide an efficient way of applying for and demonstrating proof of an exemption before travelling to, or within Western Australia.

Livestock industry updates (current as of 25 May 2020)

The National Farmers Federation has provided a page which contains information on the Federal Government stimulus packages, individual state and territory assistance and business assistance and support in relation to the agriculture sector.

Australian Alpaca Association AAA Statement on Covid-19 – Advice to members (12 March 2020)

Australian Dairy Farmers and Dairy Australia

Australian Eggs

Australian Horse Industry Council: COVID 19 Horse Ownership, Agistment and restrictions (14 April 2020)

Australian Lot Feeders Association

Australian Meat Industry Council

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Veterinary Association

Cattle Council of Australia

CSIRO

Equestrian Australia: EA COVID-19 Update (1 April 2020)
EA High Performance Update on Covid-19 (20 April 2020)

Goat Industry Council of Australia: Red meat supply chains stronger together in fight against COVID19 (26 March 2020)

Harness Racing Australia

LiveCorp

Meat & Livestock Australia

Racing Australia

Sheep Producers Australia

Wildlife Health Australia

WoolProducers Australia

Information for livestock producers and pet owners

The World Organisation for Animal Health advises that currently there is no evidence to suggest that animals infected by humans are playing a role in the spread of COVID-19. The current spread of COVID-19 is driven by human to human transmission.

There have been no reports of the virus in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

Animal owners should implement good hygiene practices where animals are kept, including washing their hands after contact with animals.

Infected owners should not come into contact with their domestic animals, where possible

To protect their domestic animals, people should follow any further directions given to them by human and animal health authorities.

The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is assisting with efforts to develop a human vaccine for COVID-19. AAHL has the ability to test for the virus.

Top 5 tips for protecting your business from COVID-19 

Food safety

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reported that there is no evidence that food is a source or transmission route for COVID-19. For other coronavirus outbreaks (e.g. SARS, MERS), transmission through food consumption did not occur.

Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) references the EFSA information, reiterating that there is currently no evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of COVID-19. FSANZ will continue to monitor developments to assess the possibility of foodborne transmission of the virus.

There are currently no cases which have shown any evidence of humans being infected via the consumption of contaminated food.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (consumer health protection) also states that due to the relatively low environmental stability of coronaviruses, it is unlikely that imported goods such as imported foods (or consumer goods such as toys, clothing etc) would be sources of infection.  Transmission via surfaces which have recently been contaminated with viruses is possible through smear infections – however, this is only likely to occur during a short period after contamination, due to the relatively low stability of coronaviruses in the environment.

Availability of agvet chemicals

While many Australian production systems rely on imported chemicals, COVID-19 is not currently impacting access for the horticulture and grains sector. This may change if international trading arrangements slow, as would be the case for other imported commodities.

While some sectors of the market are experiencing a shortage of some chemicals, the herbicide glyphosate is the most topical, this is due to low stock levels on hand during the drought coupled with the significant spike in demand from the unexpected, but welcomed, recent rain events.

NSW Farmers has recently stated there is enough chemical supply to meet needs if overstocking or panic buying is avoided.

There are some short-term issues in accessing raw materials from China but these are expected to resolve as international trade stabilises.

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Page reviewed: 26/05/2020