As we all know, it’s been conference season across all things agriculture over the past few months, and we’ve had the great pleasure of being able to support many of our industry partners.

We thought we’d summarise our winter exploits with an overview of where we’ve been, who we’ve met and what we learned.

16 May, 2023 – Summerfruit Industry Workshop, Moama, NSW

Topics covered in this one-day workshop included a seasonal review from 2022/23, improving the quality of produce going to market via the supply chain, risk management tools; and improving ROI on supplier relationships. They also looked ahead to the future to technology improvements and real-time fruit monitoring. Labour didn’t feature too prominently, however, most growers were surprised to hear that backpackers numbers are returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Trevor Ranford, Executive Officer, Summerfruit Australia Ltd, addressing the audience on opening the Conference

It’s been a tough year for the industry after poor weather (both persistent rain and isolated storms), but they’ll be looking to bounce back in 2023/24 with strong export growth a significant opportunity

17-19 May, 2023 – Australian Banana Industry Congress, Cairns, QLD

The focus for the banana industry was on pest and disease management with Panama TR4 taking up much of the headlines. Other topics included minimising waste and industry marketing.

HTIS State Manager, Kristy Banks talking with Laura MacGillycuddy from DAF
Kristy with … a banana!

22-25 May, 2023 – Northern Australia Food Future & NFF Summit, Darwin, NT

A jam-packed program over the three days with attention paid to water resources and irrigation, AgTech, supply chains, export and logistics, innovation, climate technologies and the value of data. Focus was also on labour, with presentations on the state of the agriculture workforce.

HTIS State Manager Kristy Banks with NT Farmers Harvest Officer, Rita Cadeau

5-7 June, 2023 – Hort Connections, Adelaide, SA

With over 3,000 attendees, this is the largest horticultural event of the year. Whilst topics and themes included a wide range of subjects, technology dominated. It was noted that there were concentrated efforts to promote diversity & inclusion, as well as how a career in horticulture is a very real opportunity for students and young people looking to take up the mantle. The timing of the event coincided with the announcement of PALM scheme changes, which also generated lots of conversations between growers and industry groups.

HTIS State Managers, Peter Angel and Kristy Banks at our Hort Connections stand

15-16 June, 2023 – Fruit Growers Tasmania Annual Conference, Launceston, TAS

Although focussing on the Tasmanian industry, the program reflected national interest.  Biosecurity and disease, tree husbandry, pollination, marketing, data, agritourism, mechanisation and robotics were all covered. There was also a session on labour management which included advice to measure and use data to make evidence-based decisions rather than just ‘gut feel’.

HTIS State Manager Peter Angel talking to an industry service provider.

17-19 July, 2023 – Protected Cropping Australia Conference, Brisbane, QLD

As the PCA Conference returns to a biennial cycle in conjunction with the Hydroponic Farmers Federation, this event continues to showcase the growth and opportunities for protected cropping around Australia. Focus was on four key themes – sustainability; new opportunities & industry development; climate, energy and renewables; and continued high-input costs.

There was also a People & Skills session focussing on the PALM scheme, technology to support worker productivity, and promoting life-long careers in agriculture.

HTIS State Manager, Julian Banks discussing labour with a Tasmanian grower.

So, it has certainly been a busy few months getting out and about with our industry partners and friends. The thing that struck the team the most was the ongoing belief that there are still unskilled labour shortages across the country. From what we can see from phone and email traffic into our HTIS contact centre, as well as job enquiries and candidate waitlists across each of the 15 harvest regions around the country, there is plenty of itinerant labour looking for horticulture work.

We urged growers and industry representatives at the above events to simply call the Harvest Trail Information Service contact centre on free call 1800 062 332, and we’ll find people for you.