A chestnut farmer near Bright stands to lose thousands of dollars in unharvested nuts because of a lack of nearby affordable accommodation for potential pickers.
Chestnut grower Deb Douglass said she was expecting to lose $50, 000 worth of produce this season because she couldn't get enough pickers.
"It's soul destroying," she said.
"It's terrifying because we are definitely going to lose more than half of our crop.
"To see them roasting on the ground, wasting, has bought me to tears.
Ms Douglass said between eight to ten tonnes of nuts were lying on the ground, but with limited pickers, they'd only be able to collect about three tonnes.
"It's a huge loss," she said.
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Ms Douglass blamed the situation on a number of factors, but said the lack of affordable housing for pickers was a "massive" issue.
She said even before Covid-19 drove up house and rental prices in regional areas like Bright, it was already "extremely difficult" to find accommodation for workers for the six to eight weeks of harvest.
"There's no accommodation for them," she said.
"There's no backpackers, there's no low-income rentals.
"We actually went and got a caravan specifically so we would have a place for someone to stay if they wanted to come and pick," she said.
Ms Douglass said she'd advertised locally on various job search websites and Facebook pages.
She said initially she was getting lots of responses from interested workers, but they were turned off when they realised they would to travel for the job.
"There was so many and I was like 'this is great', but half of them wanted accommodation," she said.
"There's no where for them to stay, so they can't come."
She said at first she'd lined up enough pickers, but most cancelled at the last minute, leaving her stranded.
Ms Douglass said there was up to five other local nut growers, and nearby apple growers, who were also struggling to find and home workers.
She said it was taking a big toll on their mental health.
"Emotionally it's very draining...to the point of feeling depressed about it."
She said she wanted to see urgent Federal, State and Local Government action on the issue and perhaps build accommodation specifically for harvest workers in the area.
"Something needs to be done to have affordable housing for all people," she said, "otherwise our industries are going to be decimated."
"If people don't do this job, everyone is going to miss out in the long term.
Ms Douglass is still seeking pickers for what's left of the harvest season.
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