Diggings 10 May 2020: COVID-19 roundup 2#

Matt Golding’s take on the COVID-19 outbreak in a meat-packing factory in Melbourne, cleverly referencing the Ruby Princess. May 2020


A second round of tales of  COVID – 19 and foodways.

Price freeze offers further relief for farmers

Thousands of Queensland farmers will see their irrigation water prices remain the same or fall next year thanks to a Palaszczuk Government price freeze.

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government would freeze irrigation prices for a year and absorb dam safety costs as part of ongoing measures to support Queensland business and industry through the COVID-19 crisis.

“Our farmers are doing it tough as they deal with the fallout of long-running drought, bushfires, severe weather events, volatile markets and now, the impacts of COVID-19,” Dr Lynham said.

“We need to keep our farmers in business for our food and fibre and to create jobs, just like other Queensland employers.”


The real reason our shelves were empty

The government has known about these vulnerabilities at least since 2012, when the

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry commissioned a report from the Sapere Research Group on the resilience of the country’s food supply chain. The report concluded there were key and increasing vulnerabilities, and in major disasters – including bushfires, floods and pandemics – these could become critical for weeks at a time.

While Australia is a net exporter of food, the report warned that “this does not necessarily mean that Australia is self-sufficient in food supply”.

The vulnerabilities caused by global supply chains are exacerbated by the fact that supermarket warehouses and storages only hold about 30 days of stock of non-perishable items, and only about five days of fresh produce. There is no stockpiling capacity, and minimal surge capacity.


The US meat industry has been crippled by COVID-19, but that’s unlikely to happen here

Regardless, part of the reason meatworks in the US have become coronavirus hotspots has been due to the close proximity of workers during shifts and, as the CDC noted, the fact that many of those workers share transport to and from the plant.

Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said countries like Australia and New Zealand had adopted stricter control measures in the community and hygiene measures in meatworks.

“Three months ago all processing facilities doubled their hygiene and screening procedures, moved to allow essential workers on site, and 90 per cent of them had early plans to deal with an outbreak,” Mr Hutchinson said.


ill got that community feel’: Reopening of farmers’ markets signals return to city life

Mr Choularton said market organisers had noticed that “things looked like they were going in the right direction a couple of weeks ago”, but needed time to acquire supplies of sanitiser, gloves and masks, develop new rules to operate under social distancing and consult with stallholders.


‘It will be a steep learning curve’: Merivale’s Justin Hemmes banks on fine-dining to re-open

“A forecast plan will give the hospitality industry the ability to plan much better so we can open on time. We will have to rebuild our staff pool, as many employees have returned to their home countries or moved [away from their place of work]. “Getting suppliers mobilised again is going to take time too – particularly for farmers and producers dedicated to in-venue dining.”


From coffees to groceries: Sydney cafes innovate amid COVID-19 lockdown restrictions

He said the breakthrough came when their milk provider, Riverina Fresh, approached them to sell milk out of stores, among other fresh produce … Within four days the milk supplier had put a fridge in each Ona-supplied store in New South Wales and the ACT, turning coffee shops into grocers, offering essentials packages, drive-thru coffee and ready-made meals for customers.


From the city to the bush, pubs are left in the dark

The pause has made Sydney’s most famous old hotels, normally full of charm and character, lonely sights. Where patrons once bustled around getting drinks, telling stories, bantering with staff and buying tickets for meat raffles, now it’s unhappy hour all night.


‘Not just weeds’: how rebel botanists are using graffiti to name forgotten flora

Presseq told the Guardian: “I wanted to raise awareness of the presence, knowledge and respect of these wild plants on sidewalks. People who had never taken the time to observe these plants now tell me their view has changed. Schools have contacted me since to work with students on nature in the city.”



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