By the end of September, the Australian Agriculture visa will be available to workers across all agriculture areas including fisheries and forestry sectors. It is hoped these changes will lead to growth of Australia’s primary industries as they strive to reach $100 billion in value by 2030.
Workforce shortages in the agriculture and primary industry spheres have led to the Australian government reviewing and responding after making changes to the Working Holiday Maker program. The requirement for UK backpackers to do an 88-days of work in regional areas was scraped.
This and COVID-19 have impacted rural communities trying to find workers to harvest in a wide range of industries, as well as sorting, packing and other related sectors.
The new visa will apply to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers and it will sit alongside the Pacific farm labour schemes.
Industry consultations will start immediately to understand the needs of agricultural sectors, with the departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Home Affairs and Agriculture, Water and the Environment to design the visa.
The Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated through bilateral agreements. Operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries. Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, South Korea and other Asian nations are expected to be the first included.
Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa is put into operation. During this implementation period the government says it will work to achieve a demand driven approach and consider permanent residency pathways and regional settlement.
The Government's primary and growing method for meeting agricultural workforce shortages are the existing Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), and the new visa program will build on these.
You can review the media release here