Threat for the summer harvest
Growers struggle to hire the workers they need ...
— Fiona Simson
CHERRIES at Christmas and peach-topped pavlovas are as Australian as backyard cricket but the nation’s summer fruit harvest is again under threat.
“Our peaches, nectarines, mangoes and cherries are almost ripe for the picking,” National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson said.
“Unfortunately again this season, growers will struggle to hire the workers they need to pick the fruits of their labour.”
Ms Simson said farmers were buoyed by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud’s support for an agricultural visa.
“An agricultural visa would cater specifically for the acute skill shortages facing agriculture, including fruit pickers and packers,” she said.
“Our sector already relies heavily on migrant labour.”
Ms Simson said the industry was committed to developing a domestic labour force but this alone was not the answer.
“Research and experience demonstrates that we need migrant workers to meet the farm sector’s needs,” she said.
“Many agricultural tasks are short-term and/or seasonal.
“Often these arrangements aren’t attractive to local workers, who have financial commitments.”