Great support from Australian farmers and industry

Australia’s top horticultural industry has welcomed the announcement of an agricultural visa to increase the number of long-term manpower, which is declining even before the closure of international borders at the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic.

After years of flirting with industry groups and the National Federation of Farmers (NFF), many details still need to be prepared, but the federal government has finally promised to provide them with visas. In a statement, the government acknowledged that the rules for creating an Australian agricultural visa would take effect by the end of September 2021, but that the visa process would depend on negotiations with partner countries.

The loss of the national crop register in March due to limited access to labor is already $ 45 million (starting in December 2020) and that figure is only expected to increase significantly during the winter months.

Guy Geta, chairman of the NSW Farmers’ Garden Committee for Apple and Cherry Producers, said the outbreak has exacerbated long-term demand and has joined the call for a government-based association of agricultural groups. Temporary solutions to alleviate farm labor shortages.

“We only need an AG visa for our sector. The horticulture industry has been calling for a dedicated and productive workforce to harvest and pack fruits and vegetables, so this announcement is great news, Mr. Lord said. “Last year we managed to get past our harvest but now we are going into harvest in September and we are looking for people again – the whole industry has been looking for people since the summer of six months. I thank the Federal Minister of Agriculture for his efforts to inspire this and to do so this year.

The Queensland Strawberry season is in full swing and Berry Australia chairman Peter McPherson said it was good news for the sector, which has been struggling to find harvest workers since the border was closed for COVID-19.

“The $ 1.4 billion berry sector is highly dependent on pickers because of the softness of the fruit, and historically we have hired backpacks, and the influx of dedicated workers who want to work in the sector is very acceptable,” said Mr. McPherson. It is important to remember that these picks and packs mean we can hire more locals for longer roles and generate significant economic activity in regional communities.

Photo courtesy – Berry Australia Media Release.

The new stone fruit season begins in late October, Summerfruit Australia Ltd (SAL) says it is ready to produce high quality apricot, nectar, pepper and prunes in all developing Australian regions and be ready for local and export markets. Due to energy shortages, the tree was difficult to harvest in the fall of 2020/21.

“We are actively seeking from all and sundry sources, including locals, other Australian residents and employment rights, local youth, released prisoners, migrant workers.”

The chairman of the Summer Fruit Export Development Alliance, Ian McAlister, added that the reduction of Aga visas will help fill the remaining manpower gap in the global backpack. Australian stone fruit manufacturers employ a large number of workers and the Aga visa includes another component of the labor mix.

“While the announcement is acceptable, it is important that the program be completed by September 30 so that stone fruit producers can move forward in a positive way during the harvest season,” he said.

Currently, all regions have short cuts, which is a big concern, as a guideline, manpower needs to be tripled in mid-September. Another challenge that the SLL is currently competing for is to see hospitality, engineering companies, transport operators, and even local governments all struggle for workers, and to see low levels of labor in our region.

According to SAL, Minister David Littleprude said the Aga visa will increase employment opportunities for low- and high-skilled workers who are not registered in ANA countries. The industry body believes negotiations are well under way to extend visas to other countries, and wants to see the activation of Ag visas and the opening of borders to allow more labor-intensive labor from Stanthorp to Thamenia in the Hyons Valley in Queensland. And from Swan Hill in Victoria to Perth Hills in WA.

The FFG idea of ​​a visa was conceived by the NFF and its members in 2016, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison was first to support the visa in 2018. The agricultural industry is working to achieve a $ 100 billion farm value. 2030

NFF President Fiona Simson said: “There is no doubt that inadequate manpower is man-made for the development of the region and the prosperity of the regional communities that depend on the agricultural sector. The CVD-19 epidemic has drawn a lot of attention, especially for farmers, to depend on international labor, especially during the peak season. Farmers always choose to hire domestic workers, but the reality is that agriculture depends on a combination of domestic and international labor.

However, he added that it is now up to the state and state governments and their chief health officials to approve neutral arrangements to ensure the safety of incoming foreign workers.

In the Northern Territory, we recognize the development of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth Quarantine Institutions. We look forward to seeing more such collaborations in the near future. ” During the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, agriculture continued to be an engine of the economy. Farmers have never lost sight of supermarket shelves by supporting all Australians. We hope that farmers across the country will have the full support of the Australian Parliament to make the Ag visa a reality.

Citrus Australia also welcomed the news, with CEO Nathan Hancock acknowledging the government’s contribution to the national economy and the need to support thousands of farmers across Australia who are struggling to control the effects of the epidemic.

Mr Hancock said: “This year has seen billions of dollars in financial losses and stress in all sectors of the national economy and in rural and regional Australia.” “On behalf of them, we thank the government for working with all government agencies to deliver the agricultural visa. Citrus Australia views agricultural visas as an important part of the reform and sustainable agricultural workforce. Structural changes are essential for the future growth of this growing industry. An agricultural visa allows Citrus farmers not only to be confident in their export programs but also to attract returnees to their farms and focus on packaging, which will increase the efficiency of their business.

Photo courtesy – National Party Ag visa promotion video.

The visa is open to applicants from different countries and is offered to qualified, semi-skilled and unskilled workers.

We believe that the proposed visa will meet the current labor program and the Pacific Workers’ Program, which is so important to the Citrus industry. Semi-skilled and unskilled workers, and are encouraged to invest in them. We look forward to seeing the details of the Aga visa issue. We look forward to contributing to the visa framework to ensure the benefit of both farmers and ASAN workers who want to build a career in the agricultural industry.

Strong and “enthusiastic” support also came from Grocom, a fruit and vegetable development company, and Stephen Barnard, the government’s chief executive, said the government’s new visa promise would replace farmers who want to make long-term investments to build their businesses.

For many businesses in the Australian horticultural industry, labor is the most important resource and the only cost of production. At present, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the supply of labor, and the business confidence in the sector is inherently high, ”said Mr. Barnard. Delivering this new visa to Australian agriculture is an important part of completing our long-term labor puzzle. As with any puzzle, determining the details of this visa piece will now be necessary to better match the existing pieces and save others.

Earlier this month, the National Cabinet announced that from now until March 2022, Australia would double the number of Pacific workers in Australia under the Pacific Labor Program and the current labor program, bringing in an additional 12,500 workers.

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