Push to pay workers in food 'loopy'

·2-min read

Nationals leader David Littleproud has lashed a proposal to allow farmers to pay workers with fruit and vegetables as a "loopy crazy idea" ahead of the jobs and skills summit.

The National Farmers' Federation has put forward a recommendation for "non-monetary benefits" to be taken into account when negotiating workplace deals.

It is one of 40 suggestions made by the peak farming body for the Albanese government's summit, to help address the chronic labour shortage on farms.

Mr Littleproud, who is pushing for the government to reinstate the agriculture visa, said the proposal added no value and lacked "courage".

"As soon as this government was elected, they (National Farmers' Federation) have gone into a corner and hid ... they have become cowards," he told AAP.

"They were screaming at the rooftops wanting an ag visa ... and then when it's taken away from them, they've cowered in a corner and come up with some loopy crazy idea."

The government axed the agriculture visa in favour of the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility Scheme, which originally focused on agriculture but has since been expanded to include aged care, tourism and hospitality.

Mr Littleproud said under the government's new scheme 120,000 jobs will not be filled - compared to the previous ag visa - inevitably pushing up prices and adding to cost of living pressures.

"Every time you go to the supermarket and pay at the checkout, on that docket you should see Anthony Albanese's face on it because they are taking away the ability for farmers to produce your food and fibre."

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Daniel Walton said employees deserved to be paid the minimum wage.

"If farmers want to run bed-and-breakfasts from their properties they are free to do so," he said.

"But they should never be allowed to force vulnerable workers to purchase that kind of 'service' from them."

Employment Minister Tony Burke has said while he wouldn't rule anything in or out, the idea was unlikely to garner support.