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visa Agriculture Minister Unveils Farm Worker Visa

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture had just announced the opening of a new special farm workers visa just for the picking season, for it to be one of the measures to be implemented. David Littleproud has been working hand in hand with David Coleman, the Minister for Immigration about the introduction of this skilled worker visa aimed to recruit farm workers in time for the harvest season between May and August.

The proposed visa was gamely supported by Littleproud, saying that the current shortage of labour in the agricultural sector, specifically for picking would be addressed by a new agriculture visa.

He added, “We need a specific farm visa so farmers and those who want to work on farms don’t have to wade through multiple different types of visas.” He further said, “When I became Agriculture Minister last December, I made it a key priority to deliver an agriculture visa for this picking season.”

The current proposal describes the farm worker visa as a short-term multiple-entry visa without any labour market testing or requirement for sponsorship, with the visa holder being allowed to change employers within the agriculture sector.

For its part, the National Farmers Federation head Fiona Samson, said that should this new visa subclass not be introduced soon, the growers would find difficulty this picking season to hire farm workers for their crop harvest. She said, “An agricultural visa would cater specifically for the acute skill shortages facing agriculture, including fruit pickers and packers. Our sector relies heavily on migrant labour.”

One reaction came from David Thomson, Growcom CEO, who said in his column published at the Fairfax Media on the topic said, “While Mr. Littleproud did not provide details, he indicated that government was aiming to initiate a trial later this year. Portability is fundamental to the success of such a visa whereby entrants would be permitted to move between employers (provided they work in the agriculture sector) during their stay.”

He added, “We contend that only employers who demonstrate sustainable workplace practices should be able to access visa workers and one mechanism to determine this would be through the Fair Farms certification scheme.”

For its part, the Department of Home Affairs has signified its support in fulfilling the needs of regional Australia. According to Immigration Minister David Coleman, “Australia’s immigration needs aren’t the same in all areas, and policy should take that into account. Where the system can be improved to better match immigration patterns to needs in specific locations, we should do that. In particular, we need to look closely at ways of filing employment gaps in regional areas.”

Currently, the nearest occupation under ANZSCO is Agricultural Consultant (ANZSCO 234111). This occupation is listed on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) as an occupation in demand. Included visas in this category are the Skilled Independent 189, the Skilled Nominated 190, the Skilled Regional Nominated 489 or the Skilled Regional Sponsored 489. Other options for employer-sponsored visas become available with a firm offer of employment from a legitimate farm business operation in Australia.

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