LETTER TO THE EDITOR
NT Farmers Association welcomes the government’s commitment to introduce an agricultural visa which will allow people from ASEAN countries to work on Australian farms and enhance the value of our industry.
It will make it easier for farmers to recruit workers who are willing and ready to contribute to farm operations.
The agricultural visa provides farmers with another option to help solve the crippling workforce shortages that affect our farms, particularly during harvest season.
Current workforce initiatives such as the Pacific Labour Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Program are important to the industry but this agricultural visa will allow the industry to tap into a much larger labour pool.
Farmers are committed to employing Australian staff although additional workers from overseas are needed to help fulfil all our workforce roles.
However, the visa will not solve the massive workforce crisis that our industry faces this year.
With the mango season just a few months away, and no quarantine arrangements in place to secure workers from overseas, farmers will struggle to harvest mangoes this season.
NT Farmers call upon both the Commonwealth and NT governments to urgently secure a quarantine facility in North Australia for industry.
Failure to secure the facility, will result in higher food prices and a potential shortage of certain fresh food products for Australians. It will also cause enormous emotional and financial stress for our growers.
Australia is estimated to have an agricultural workforce shortage of 20,000 people this year and in the NT we have a shortage of 2000 people.
Australia cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer, a quarantine facility must be secured for the benefit of farmers and Australian consumers.
Paul Burke, CEO NT Farmers Association
IMAGE: The Spruce / K. Dave.