Extra reform needed for the full supply chain
CHANGES to backpacker and seasonal worker visa programs will help farmers plug staffing gaps, but will not address critical skills shortages in other parts of the agricultural supply chain, according to the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC).
The Federal Government has announced changes that will give backpackers the option of staying in Australia for an extra year if they complete an extra six months of regional work, and the amount of time a backpacker can work for a single employer has also been extended.
In addition, the Seasonal Worker Program, which enables farmers to access workers from Pacific nations and Timor Leste, will be extended from six months to nine.
But AMIC CEO Patrick Hutchinson said the changes don’t go far enough.
“It’s important, of course, that producers can secure the staff they need, but the backpacker program needs to be expanded to the whole of the agricultural supply chain, including the meat industry, from meat processors to smallgoods manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers,” he said.
“Meat industry employers are crying out for these and other reforms to the visa system.”