Australian Agriculture Visa
In August 2021 the Australian Government announced the Australian Agriculture visa to address workforce shortages in the agriculture sector. The visa will be available to skilled, semi-skilled and low-skilled workers across the broad range of agricultural industries (including meat processing), and the fishery and forestry sectors.More information will be made available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website as details of the program are designed with industry.
The Australian agriculture sector employed about 334,000 people and was worth $67 billion in 2019-20. The sector aims to achieve $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030. The agriculture sector includes fishing and forestry.
Access to a secure and skilled workforce is vital.
Human capital is a key theme of Ag2030. Delivering Ag2030 outlines government support for the sector to achieve its goal.
2021-22 Budget measures
The 2021-22 Budget invests around $30 million to help the agricultural sector secure, skill and build its workforce.
Attracting workers to agriculture
$25.2 million provided over 4 years for AgATTRACT. AgATTRACT aims to shift perceptions of agriculture work and showcase the diverse career opportunities on offer.
- $5.1 million in administered funding for AgCAREERSTART pilot – a structured and supported gap year in agriculture for school leavers
- $7.3 million in administered funding for AgUP pilot – a grants program to support industry-led projects that create opportunities for upskilling and career progression
- $1.3 million in administered funding for research on community views and worker experiences of the agriculture sector
- $1.5 million for ABARES to improve agriculture labour forecasting
- $4.2 million for the Australian Bureau of Statistics to update agriculture occupations in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations and to get a better picture of agriculture workers
- $2.7 million for the National Careers Institute to ensure career information reflects modern agriculture occupations with the development of an up-to-date map of careers and pathways.
Helping agricultural employers
$4.6 million provided over 4 years for AgFAIR. AgFAIR will help agricultural employers:
- adopt best practice workforce management and planning practices
- attract and retain employees.
- $3.2 in administered funding million to support the roll out and fast-track the uptake of the Fair Farms program
- Just under $1 million to procure practical resources to support agriculture employers to implement modern workforce management and planning practices.
The Budget investment also includes funding for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the National Careers Institute and the Australian Bureau of Statistics to deliver the measures.
This investment will help support the sector build towards its $100 billion Ag2030 target.
Response to COVID-19 disruption
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the whole economy, including agriculture. Border closures have reduced workforce supply, but farm workers are still in demand. In the past, overseas workers filled up to 50% of casual and contract labour positions.
What we are doing
- $15.4 million for AgMove, which provides up to $6,000 to help people take up short-term job opportunities in agriculture.
- Temporary changes to the Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY independence eligibility criteria to encourage take-up of agriculture work.
- Pacific labour mobility programs resumed from September 2020. These built on a trial to support the mango industry in the Northern Territory. These programs are demand driven and rely on quarantine capacity that is managed by state and territory governments.
- Temporary visa changes so workers already here can stay longer and relaxing visa conditions to enable more visa holders to work in agriculture.
- National Agriculture Workers Code to help agriculture workers move across state and territory borders.
- JobMaker Hiring Credit for employers that hire eligible young people.
Pacific Australia Labour Mobility
Australia’s Pacific labour mobility initiatives are highly valued by Australia and the Pacific and Timor-Leste, supporting both Australian businesses to meet unmet labour demand and providing employment opportunities for Pacific and Timorese workers.
The government has introduced the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme, a new streamlined approach to the Pacific labour mobility initiatives. Further information see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade PALM website.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) publishes data on farm labour.
ABARES is also monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector workforce. These estimates will be published later in 2021.
We are working with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to review how the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) classifies agriculture sector occupations.
See the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Targeted Update of ANZSCO Proposed Changes webpage for further information and to provide input to this project prior to publication of the ANZSCO Australia Update 2021 due for release on 23 November 2021.
Strategy and Roadmap
The National Agriculture Labour Advisory Committee’s report – National Agriculture Workforce Strategy: Learning to excel, and the Australian Government Roadmap to attract, retain, upskill and modernise the agriculture workforce were released in March 2021.