New agriculture visa provides opportunities for labour relief

Jon Condon, 23/08/2021

IN what’s being hailed as the biggest structural change to agricultural labour in Australia’s history, a long-awaited agricultural visa will be introduced in coming months to boost the workforce in the nation’s meat processing horticultural, fisheries and forestry sectors.

The new Agricultural Worker Visa announced by the Federal Government today will offer temporary workers, who will be sourced from ten Southeast Asian nations, a pathway to permanent Australian residency.

The visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for Australia’s critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s greatest challenges in recent history, ag minister David Littleproud said during the launch.

The new visa will be in place no later than 30 September, with the full implementation completed within three years, the government said.

The visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries and will be available to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers across meat processing, fisheries and forestry sectors, and provides a basis for the ongoing growth of the nation’s primary industries, Mr Littleproud said.

Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said the agriculture visa would deliver what so many primary producers were crying out for.

“It will give regional Australia the workers they need to get produce to plates in Australia, as well as in our export markets,” Mr Joyce said.

Mr Littleproud said the agriculture workforce shortage had been a major issue during COVID.

“While our farmers and industries have gone about their work keeping Australians and the world fed and clothed, they have done so under workforce constraints,” he said.

“With the changes to the Working Holiday Maker program as a result of the UKFTA, we knew this was the time to get the agriculture visa across the line. This is a structural change to the agricultural workforce – it gives our farmers the confidence to plant a crop and know that they’ll be able to get it into the supply chain, at harvest.

Pathway to permanent residency

Mr Littleproud said the new visa would complement the Pacific Visa programs already in place, but would also provide a pathway to permanent residency.

“We’ve listened to our communities and our industries and this is what they’ve asked for. This will also help keep our next generation in town, knowing that the future of regional Australia is bright and prosperous,” he said.

Speaking to ABC’s Fran Kelly this morning, Mr Littleproud said the new visa represented the biggest structural change to agricultural labour in Australia’s history.

“The visa numbers will be demand-driven – there are no caps on this,” he said.

“Effectively, it will come down to the bilateral negotiations that will take place now. And we’re obviously trying to accelerate those with countries that we have long standing immigration relationships with, such as Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. But it also means the UK, because this obviously came about as part of the negotiations on the UK free trade agreement. So, UK workers will come under this, and this is the primacy of this, but it also supplements and complements the Pacific schemes that are in place at the moment,” he said.

“So, there’s nothing stopping the 25,000 men and women through those seasonal Pacific schemes coming in. This is also going to skilled and semi-skilled workers, not just unskilled workers.”

Mr Littleproud said most of Australia’s meat processing sectors were currently running around 60 to 70 percent of capacity, because they simply did not have the people to do the jobs.

“It is important to understand, these jobs are market-tested – so Australians get first crack. But it’s important to understand that farmers have been patient, but they can wait no longer. They need the labour.”

Great start, but detail still needed

The Australian Meat Industry Council has welcomed the Government’s visa announcement.

“This new visa represents a concerted effort by both industry and government, that recognises that we are an essential service. This is not about trying to substitute Australian labour with cheaper labour from overseas – it is in fact so much harder to go through this process to get workers on site, than it is to hire locals,” chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said. “But if we can’t do it the easy way, we have to do it the hard way.”

“AMIC has been working on behalf of the whole industry on this. We’ve been very clear in a number of the key structures we are looking for – as an industry that is concerned about its labour future.

While the new visa was “gratefully accepted and appreciated”, there were a few important aspects that the meat processing industry would need to continue to work on with government – “issues that are quite specific to red meat processing, as opposed to horticulture or other parts of agriculture,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“We still need to see how this is going to play out. We don’t want to see workers exiting the country within nine to twelve months of their arrival. The processing industry, with the skill levels involved, needs people who are here for four years. We are not a seasonal industry like horticulture – processing is 12 months of the year.”

Mr Hutchinson said the new visa would not miraculously solve the broader labour resourcing problem faced by processors, as the national beef herd and sheep flock recover after drought (click here to view earlier story).

“But it will certainly help, in the broader solution,” he said.





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  1. Joemels Vallar Hayag, 11/09/2022

    Looking forward this oppurtunity.

  2. Idijuma, 01/09/2022

    Currently it I’m working with almarai dairy will be fine if we get these opportunity.

  3. Felix Hamtig, 12/02/2022

    Im interested to work in Meat procces .i am currently working as butcher here in qatar .how can i apply and what are the requirements? Thanks.

  4. Dennis Magas, 09/11/2021

    I’m not an agriculturists, but I am willing to work this job opportunity.

  5. Almazan manuelito, 02/11/2021

    I can apply as a meat debonner

  6. Jomar Dorado, 07/10/2021

    Good day i very interested to work abroad i am a license agriculturist. I hope i find new opportunities thankyou so much in advance

  7. Luke Jan Enanoria, 01/10/2021

    I’m not an agriculturists, but I am willing to work this job opportunity.

  8. Petter Cruda, 29/09/2021

    I am an agriculturist major in animal production. I been work in australia before from 2008 to 2012. I would like to work again in australia if given me a chance through this agriculture visa. Looking forward for this opportunity.

  9. Louise, 12/09/2021

    Dairy farmers included please?

  10. Louie Paul D. Abitona, 09/09/2021

    I am an agriculturist. I am currently working at the Department of Agriculture here in the Philippines assigned as livestock coordinator and A.I. for both large and small ruminants. How do I start my application?

    • Rochelle Nathalie David, 11/02/2022

      I am a Licensed Agriculturist with Master in Crop Science and have worked in the Department of Agriculture.I am intetested in working in Australia.

  11. Mylene Caballero, 07/09/2021

    Hope to visit australia🥰

  12. Donna Lerios, 07/09/2021

    Looking forward for this job

  13. Excel Layson, 06/09/2021


  14. Ricky C. Baje, 06/09/2021

    interested applicant here, willing to learn and to be trained anytime if given a chance…looking forward for this opportunity.

  15. Ranah Lopez, 06/09/2021

    I am interested to apply here

  16. Michael Perocho, 06/09/2021


  17. Teresita M. Lucenada, 05/09/2021

    It’s a big help for a Filipino thank you

  18. Perfecto T. Tabale Jr., 05/09/2021

    interested applicant here, willing to learn and to be trained anytime if given a chance…

  19. Yyella Viva A. Alvarez, 05/09/2021

    Looking forward for this opportunity 🙏

  20. Indika wanasooriya, 02/09/2021

    Agriculture labour job need any agelit

    • Lalien Cruda, 06/09/2021

      Looking forward to apply to job availability here soon!..I’m graduate in Agricultural Course 4 years

  21. Marian Dakunivosa, 29/08/2021

    Good idea 3- 4 years of work…not like Seasonal Work…

  22. Marian Dakunivosa, 29/08/2021

    Is Fiji included in one of these countries?

  23. Amanjit kaur, 29/08/2021

    what about the student visa holders to get PR through this visa. Students already paying big contributions to Australia through there schools and Universities fees. They mostly working in Regional area in farms. i am from Horticulture field and found that Asian students working hard and Farmers are very happy to keep them specially indian students .

  24. gursimrat singh, 25/08/2021

    Weldone but i think already lot of people here give p.r much better than out side

  25. Daryl Rankmore, 24/08/2021

    Here we go again about a shortage of labour in Australia, it’s becoming a joke , coming from a farming background, growing up on the land, i know quite well there is thousands of Australian born people in the country areas of Australia looking for work , there’s no shortage of labour, these big farming companies need to start paying award wages. So in a time of Covid that has Australia closed off to itself, friends, family’s, loved ones not seeing there children, brothers, sisters, parents, relations the Australian government decides its a wise choice to bring more foreigners in ? to let more covid in ? Is the leaders of this country that corrupt and blind to see what they are doing to Australia? the effects these decisions that they are stupidly making effects the livelihood of every Australian born individual, people have spent months and months from children and loved ones and still they keep flying foreigners in with covid , come on Australia, stand up together, stop all foreign employment in Australia and look after one and another .

    • Ray Azzopardi, 28/08/2021

      You’re mixing apples with oranges. Problem is not award wages but Centrelink handouts !

  26. Peter Dunn, 23/08/2021

    Well done David Littleproud.

  27. Terry Nolan, 23/08/2021

    When I talk to other business owners, the top-of-mind issue for most is finding staff. Horticultural products are left to drop on the ground and rot. Meat processors have reduced throughput and lower carcase utilisation because of people shortages. Transport and logistics people can’t find truck and forklift drivers. It just seems to go on and on. It appears even worse in the regions. Thank you to Minister Littleproud and his team for driving this Ag Visa program.

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