Threat for the sum­mer har­vest

Central and North Rural Weekly - - OPINION -

❝will 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.”

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