Page 14 - Australian Pork Newspaper
P. 14

Farmers asked to report worker shortages in campaign for Ag Visa
LAST summer, Ho- bart region strawberry grower David Jennings was forced to leave 350 tonnes of strawberries to rot because he could not find enough workers to pick them.
Likewise, Perth berry farmer Anthony Yewers had no choice but to for- sake 30 percent of his mixed berry crop.
These stories and more are being shared as part of a new campaign by the National Farmers’ Federation to highlight the critical need for an agricultural-specific visa (Ag Visa).
NFF president Fiona Simson said the peak body was buoyed by Prime Minister Morri-
son’s recent re-commit- ment to bringing an Ag Visa to fruition but more work was needed.
“The Government re- quires additional infor- mation about the extent of agriculture’s labour shortage crisis and exact- ly what jobs are going un- filled,” Ms Simson said.
“We know stories like that of David, Anthony and their families are all too common but we need the hard data.”
Ms Simson said the NFF was calling on all farm employers to com- plete the National Har- vest Labour Information Service survey.
“The one-page form asks farmers how many workers they require and
for what tasks,” she said. “It should take no more than 10 minutes to com-
The NFF has been ad-
vocating for an Ag Visa for almost two years, to complement the existing visa programs used by farmers.
Ms Simson said when there was a lack of do- mestic labour, farmers sourced international workers through the Working Holiday Maker Visa Programme and the Seasonal Worker Pro- gramme.
“Our strong preference is to see Australians fill- ing Aussie farm jobs,” she said.
“However, lots of farm work is labour intensive, not available all year round and therefore not suited to some Australian job seekers.
“The Working Holi- day Maker Visa and the Seasonal Worker Pro- gramme are successful to an extent but they cannot adequately meet agricul-
ture’s labour needs.”
An Ag Visa would di- versify the countries from which workers are sourced, and allow visa holders to move between different farm businesses – depending where and when the work is available. “International workers with a genuine interest in agricultural work would be encouraged to apply for an Ag Visa and be as- sisted to transition from unskilled work to skilled positions,” Ms Simson
An Ag Visa is intended
to complement the Work- ing Holiday Maker Visa, the Seasonal Worker Pro- gramme and the many initiatives designed to see more Australians take up farm jobs.
“At the heart of the agri- cultural visa program is the building a long-term farm workforce, includ- ing pathways to perma- nent residency for suc- cessful ag visa holders and their families,” Ms Simson said.
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Page 14 – Australian Pork Newspaper, November 2018

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