National Farmers' Federation

Farming communities, economies set to benefit from the return of overseas workers

The National Farmers Federation has welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister that eligible visa holders, including working holiday makers and international skilled workers, will be able to enter Australia from December 1.

It comes as the agriculture labour workforce shortage has only exacerbated since border lockdowns began in March 2020.

“The controlled and COVID-safe return of working holiday makers to Australia is something the NFF has advocated for more than 12 months. It is relieving to see those calls have finally been answered,” said NFF CEO Tony Mahar.

Under today’s announcement, eligible visa holders will be able to come into the country without needing to apply for a travel exemption.

“It’s a fantastic outcome for the sector and the farming communities within it,” Mr Mahar continued.

The past 18 – 24 months have been incredibly tough on the industry. With international border closures, the proportion of working holiday makers providing seasonal work on fruit and vegetable farms has plummeted, leaving farming operations with nowhere to turn – some even having to throw produce away as a last resort.

“Overseas workers, including working holiday makers and skilled visa holders, are critical to the entire sector. Overseas workers not only milk our cows, strip the crops and care for livestock; they are vital to regional economies and communities, and their contribution has been sorely missed,” said Mr Mahar. 
“Migrant workers play a substantial role in boosting other regional businesses and economies beyond agriculture. They eat at the local café; they shop from the family-owned stores.”
The NFF also supports the government’s restriction to offering this to fully vaccinated travellers only. 
“We welcome a balanced approach to the public health risk. There must be a priority to ensure that is done safely and I commend the government’s approach.”

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