New visa to offer boost for farmers
A CRUCIAL development in the agricultural sector has the potential to salvage the livelihoods of countless regional growers and primary producers.
An Australian Agriculture Worker Visa came into effect on Thursday and provided for the entry and temporary stay of workers across primary industry sectors, and it will be available to workers from countries where a bilateral agreement is in place.
Special Envoy for Northern Australia Senator Susan McDonald said the agriculture visa would also create a pathway to permanent residency for agricultural workers.
“I have spoken to many primary producers in North and C e n t r a l Queensland who were in dire straits due to the lack of backpackers coming in to pick crops,” Senator Mcdonald said. “In response we promised this visa and we’ve delivered it.
“The creation of the Ag visa under the Migration Regulations is a landmark moment for the sector and delivers on our promise to have it in place this year.
“The Ag visa will be the biggest structural change to the agricultural workforce in our nation’s history and producers in Northern Australia are poised to be able to grab the benefits with both hands.”
Senator Mcdonald said the Bowen district was already facing crop losses of $60-80m, and the district’s mango growers were facing grim times.
“We’ve also had abattoirs operating at reduced capacity because of labour shortages. All this means trouble for our food producers but also increased prices for consumers,” she said.
Workers need to meet quarantine requirements.