Locals could be among the more than 4,500 public servants eligible for five days’ special leave to assist the state’s farmers ahead of a record harvest season.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said this was another important step from the NSW Government which would help the region’s farmers bring in their crops.

“Agriculture will be a significant driver as the Goulburn electorate and state’s economies recover from COVID. By providing harvest leave to staff to provide an extra set of hands in the field helps get produce to market and dollars into farmers’ pockets.

“This is the first time leave of this kind has been offered to Department of Regional NSW staff and it’s another example of the work this government is doing to help farmers source the workforce they need for another bumper harvest. 

“Through drought, bushfires, mice and now the pandemic, the regions have stood tall to produce the food and fibre we all rely on. Now it’s our turn to help them out.”

The initiative was announced this week by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole and Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall.

“Nearly 80 per cent of staff from the Department of Regional NSW already live and work in regional NSW, so chances are many of them know their way around a header or chaser bin and how important this busy time of year is for regional communities,” Mr Toole said.

“These workers can volunteer to help out with any harvest, anywhere in the state – from harvesting blueberries in Coffs Harbour, oranges and table grapes in the Riverina and Murray, to cherries in the Central West or helping bring in a bumper grain harvest.”

“This will be a record season and Harvest Leave provides another positive incentive to ensure this year’s crops are harvested,” Mr Marshall said.

Staff can use local contacts or the Help Harvest NSW website to help find suitable opportunities to assist in this year’s harvest. There is no cost to farmers getting help from departmental volunteers, as staff will be paid at their standard leave rate by the Department. Leave will be managed to ensure there will be no impact on services provided by the Department.