Desperate strawberry growers offer $100,000 prize to lure locals to pick their crops before they rot after all the seasonal pickers fled during Covid
- Queensland government offers $1500 to people who relocate to regional farms
- Casual farm workers may also be eligible for $6000 from Federal government
- People who commit to a season picking strawberries could win $100,000
- Backpackers and seasonal workers have disappeared from farms due to COVID
Desperate Queensland strawberry growers are offering a $100,000 prize to attract locals to pick this winter’s crop as COVID-19 restrictions rob the industry of backpackers and other seasonal workers.
The prize is announced as part of a new Queensland Government campaign to attract Australians to the state’s food bowls to pick the winter harvest.
As part of the #pickqld campaign, the government will provide up to $1500 to help a would-be farm worker relocate. There is also $6000 on offer from the Federal government’s relocation assistance scheme for those who move to take up short-term agricultural work, including harvest work.
The #pickqld campaign seeks to lure city workers to the regions to pick the winter harvest
Joanne, a casual picker of plums in Stanthorpe, is one of the faces of #pickqld
‘You can be eligible for both amounts,’ a Queensland government spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
Queensland produce growers have borne the brunt of a critical labour shortage due to the pandemic, with only a quarter of the usual number of backpackers employed to pick fruit and other produce expected in Australia this year.
Bowen Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Hedditch even suggested farmers in his region may not plant crops in 2021, while suggesting tomatoes might rise in price at supermarkets by 900 per cent.
‘We are supporting our food providers by encouraging people from all walks of life and age groups, who are looking for something different and are in the position to relocate for short-term work, to give a farm job a go,’ said Mark Furner, Queensland Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities, at the launch of the #pickqld Winter Harvest 2021 campaign.
Queensland Strawberries is running a competition to win $100,000 for picking the fruit
Queensland farmers had been hard-hit by the lack of backpackers caused by the pandemic
To be eligible for the $100,000 prize, a worker is awarded 100 points awarded for every ‘Average Working Week’ they complete at a participating farm. Once they have accumulated 1000 points they receive 1000 entries into the draw for the prize.
There are also bonus points on offer for working consecutive weeks at a participating farm.
‘We won’t deny that you will need to work hard, but the rewards are certainly there for people who are prepared to put the effort in,’ said Adrian Schultz, president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association.
He said the strawberry industry was facing the most challenging growing season in its history.
‘Growers have made a significant investment in buying and planting strawberry runners, and without the right number of workers available to harvest the crop across the winter our farms face serious financial consequences.’