Farm boost with new agricultural visa

·2-min read

Farmers could soon have access to more workers from overseas, following the creation of a new agriculture visa.

The new visa type, which came into effect from Thursday, will allow for the entry and temporary stay in Australia of workers across primary industries.

While the final numbers of how many workers would be able to enter the country on the visa are yet to be confirmed, the first workers are expected to arrive from late 2021.

Entry to the country will be subject to quarantine arrangements and agreements with partner nations.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said the new visa would help to address workplace shortages in the industry, which had been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.

"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," Mr Littleproud said.

"It will be open to applicants from a range of countries and we are already in talks with a number of countries in our region who are eager to participate."

The government supported the creation of the new visa in exchange for the Nationals committing to backing a new free-trade agreement with the UK.

Farmers have long been calling for such a visa, saying it would help with production efforts.

The first phase of the visa being created will see a small cohort of agriculture workers arrive in Australia between December and March 2022.

The number of workers entering the country on the visa is expected to increase further under the second phase, which would begin in April.

Mr Littleproud said the new visa would help complement existing programs with Pacific nations.

"The Pacific will remain the key pathway for the sector to access workers for this harvest, with the government committing to double the number of Pacific workers in Australia by March 2022," he said.

"The ag visa will be the biggest structural change to agricultural workforce in our nation's history."

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