The horticulture industry is requesting that a trial for the newly announced seasonal agricultural worker visa begins before the end of the year. The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) previously welcomed the announcement of a dedicated seasonal agricultural worker visa, which will reduce the industry’s reliance on working holidaymakers and enable the industry to better develop a productive and returning workforce.
“As some of the largest employers in the industry, AFPA members have developed a 10-year perspective of their workforce needs. Long-term perspective reduces reliance on backpackers and focuses on better avenues for the employment of Australians, Pacific workers and new seasonal agricultural worker visa holders, ”said Michael Rogers , CEO of AFPA.
AFPA calls on the government to implement a seasonal farm worker visa trial and focus on a group of registered employers, potential visa holders and countries of origin. A smaller-scale trial will also allow industry to work with relevant agencies to manage quarantine lanes for seasonal agricultural worker visa holders traveling to Australia.
Worker visa implementation
“It is essential that we implement the seasonal agricultural worker visa this year to provide additional workers for the summer harvest and to support the structural workforce changes underway in the sector. A trial will quickly implement the government’s commitment while testing the parameters of the new visa program, ”Rogers said.
The closure of Australia’s international borders reduced the number of working holidaymakers in the country from more than 140,000 at the start of the pandemic to around 37,000. During the same period, more than 9,000 visa holders from the Seasonal Workers Program and the Pacific Pacific Work Program have addressed critical labor shortages in the horticulture, meat processing, manufacturing and accommodation sectors.
“Right now, there are more Seasonal Worker Program visa holders working in horticulture than ever before. This clearly demonstrates the changing direction of the industry towards a more reliable, productive and profitable workforce model. Going forward, the Seasonal Farm Worker Visa will be a key addition to Pacific workers and is essential in reducing overreliance on working vacationers.
Australia’s fresh produce industry is in the midst of a workforce restructuring and the adoption of new workforce planning and management. An increase in Pacific programs, along with the new seasonal farm worker visa, will form the backbone of the harvest workforce and lead to increases in productivity, compensation and long-term stability. . It’s good for the producers and good for the workers, ”Rogers said.