Unlike other essential workers across NSW, agriculture employees will not be required by law to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the decision to mandate instead falling on the shoulders of employers.
The move comes after regional NSW was put in alignment with the state roadmap out of lockdown, as Greater Sydney starts progressing its way out of more than 100 days in lockdown.
Currently those working in healthcare, aged care, education, at airports and as quarantine workers and in disability and early childhood education are required by law as essential workers to be fully vaccinated by fixed dates.
Agriculture workers however while classified as 'essential' do not fall under the same mandate.
Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW Adam Marshall said while he encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, the decision was made to ensure that COVID settings would not slow down the state's critical agriculture sector or impact on the supply chain.
"Following advice from NSW Health, I have worked with industry to find the best solution to keep our rural and regional communities safe while also ensuring our farmers can continue to work and minimise any impacts on the supply chain," Mr Marshall said.
"If you work in horticulture, viticulture, the citrus industry, an abattoir or farm, there is no requirement from the NSW state government for you to be vaccinated, although I would highly recommend it for keeping our workplaces and communities safe."
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Rombola Family Farms is a NSW Riverina-based business who is strongly encouraging employees to get vaccinated, with over 90 per cent of the workforce having received their double dose.
"We are asking proof of vaccination from our employees and for those who have found it difficult or are unsure about how to book in for an appointment, we have been assisting them and booking them in for vaccination," said Erika Antia, HR and WHS Business Partner at Rombola Family Farms.
A NSW Farmers spokesperson told The Area News that the benefit of vaccination was 'undisputable' and strongly encouraged all agriculture workers to book in to get vaccinated if they haven't already.
According to NSW Farmers President James Jackson, vaccination was key to ending workforce mobility problems in the sector.
"It is incumbent upon everyone to roll up their sleeves and get their jabs so we can give the government the confidence to put these lockdowns behind us," Mr Jackson said.
He did note however that with important grain and horticulture harvest fast approaching, the industry must do everything 'we can' to get these crops in.
"The next few months will be extremely busy for those with fields full of grain and trees weighed down by fruit," Mr Jackson said
"Our farmers are doing their bit by making use of the rain, but it's up to all of us to do our bit and put lockdowns behind us."
For those wanting to pursue work in the sector, please visit the 'Help Harvest NSW' website, which connects agriculture employers with anyone looking for work.
To check your vaccine eligibility or book an appointment please visit the Australian Government vaccine eligibility checker.