Fruit and vegetables could double in price by Christmas because unemployed Australians refuse to move out to regional farms to work.
Despite the government offering the unemployed a generous allowance to move to a regional area, only 233 have signed up in the past year.
Fewer backpackers due to the coronavirus pandemic has left the agriculture industry with a predicted labour shortfall of 71,000 workers, which could cause a price rise by the end of the year.
The cost of fruit and vegetables could double by Christmas because unemployed Australians refuse to move out to regional farms to work
With backpacker workers (pictured) continuing to leave the country due to the COVID-19 crisis, data has found jobless Australians refuse to move to regional areas for work
The Relocation Assistance gives unemployed people $6,000 when they relocate to a regional area for work if they have been without work for 12 months.
They would have to relocate for a work placement of at least six months at 30 hours per week and and there are 500,000 people eligible nationwide.
Suncoast Fresh wholesaler Graeme Twine has estimated his consumers will begin to notice the change in price soon with summer and fruit vegetables to increase in price by 50 to 100 per cent.
‘There is stuff in the ground now that will probably be ready for Christmas, so whether they can get it out is up to how many pickers they can get,’ he told The Courier Mail.
Australian consumers will begin to feel the price pinch before the end of the year with a shortage of up to 71,000 workers in the agriculture industry (Empty Woolworths shelves earlier this year)
A generous incentive offering long-term unemployed Aussies $6,000 to move to a regional area was only snapped up by 233 people last year
Meanwhile, Fullerton Farms boss Ken Fullerton said he would happily hire Australians if they were to apply.
‘We live close to Caboolture, which has high unemployment, and there’s not many people coming out here looking for work,’ he said.
Growcom CEO Richard Shannon said pushing for Australians to move to farms was the best chance for the industry, but JobSeeker was stopping them from wanting to take up work.
‘We’ve had reports of long-term Australian employees leaving horticulture because there was only $200 difference between the work and JobSeeker,’ he said.