Staff from the Department of Regional NSW including Local Land Services and the NSW Department of Primary Industries can have five days special leave to help farmers harvest their crops.
With a bumper harvest season expected Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the special leave entitlements being rolled out for the very first time will allow departmental staff to lend a hand as farmers struggle to find workers to bring in their crops.
“Nearly 80% of staff from the Department of Regional NSW already live and work in regional NSW, so chances are most of them know their way around a header or a chaser bin and how important this busy time of year is for regional communities,” Mr Toole said.
The regions have had a tough time in the past few years with prolonged drought and covid, and this has significantly impacted seasonal harvest worker availability.
“These workers can volunteer to help out with any harvest, anywhere in the state – from harvesting blueberries to helping bring in a bumper grain harvest,” Mr Toole said.
Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the unprecedented move would help farmers source the workforce they need for their harvest.
“Drastic times call for drastic measures. There is no silver bullet to solve the covid exacerbated workforce shortage, but this is another step we are implementing to support industry,” Mr Marshall said.
All 4,500 staff were encouraged to take up Harvest Leave provides to ensure this year’s crops are harvested.
Staff can use local contacts or the Help Harvest NSW website to help find suitable opportunities to assist in this year’s harvest.
There is no cost to farmers getting help from departmental volunteers, as staff will be paid at their standard leave rate by the Department.
Leave will be managed to ensure there will be no impact on services provided by the Department.