Fortunately for the agricultural sector, the Australian agriculture worker visa, also known as the ag visa, is a step closer to fruition, after the Federal Government amended the migration regulations. It has enabled it to be operationalized with a supporting program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The minister for agriculture and northern Australia, David Littleproud says it is a landmark moment for the sector and it delivers on the government’s promise to have the visa signed into law this year. The regulation provides a new Australian agriculture worker stream which will provide for the entry and temporary stay of workers across primary industries sectors, and provides the pathway for workers to arrive once partner country negotiations are complete – hopefully some by the end of the year.
The minister believes that the ag visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s greatest challenges in recent history. It will be open to applicants from a range of countries and the government is already in talks with a number of countries in the region, who are extremely eager to participate. This new agricultural visa comes as a sigh of relief for both parties because Australia has been dealing with a severe shortage of workers. Moreover, the visa is a complementary step to the ongoing Pacific programs, which have been extremely successful since they were implemented. They have supported the agricultural industry tremendously. The workers from the Pacific have played a major role in the successful harvests of the nation.
The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) is all smiles for the new amendment as it will significantly cut down on the reliance that the industry has on backpackers. Not only will this visa provide the entry and temporary stay for workers but it will also allow faster and more effective recruitment of short term seasonal workers. Also welcoming the news was Australia’s peak citrus body, Citrus Australia, with CEO Nathan Hancock saying the support from those within the government who prioritized this visa has not gone unnoticed. Therefore, it seems that this is just what the sector required!
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)