United approach delivers ag labour outcome

Speaking with a united voice has delivered a big win for horticulture, following today’s announcement to changes to visa arrangements for backpackers and seasonal labour.
NSW Farmers’ Horticulture Committee Chair, Guy Gaeta, said he was delighted to share a positive outcome for the industry with fellow peak bodies in the horticulture sector.
“I want to congratulate Fiona Simson, the National Farmers’ Federation and the Horticulture Council for the strong and united stand which has resulted in the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister today,” Mr Gaeta said.
“Lifting the cap on working holiday maker places, and for the seasonal worker program, will give Australian farmers greater access to seasonal labour during harvest and other peak periods.  Having access to a productive workforce is essential to our desire to grow the value of Australian agriculture to $100 billion by 2030.”
“We acknowledge that the Government has listened to the concerns of industry and developed a response in line with industry demands.  We will continue to lobby for an Agricultural Visa to manage the longer-term needs of the sector – for now, however, the changes announced today will help us manage the pressing labour challenges of the sector.
Mr Gaeta said NSW Farmers would look for further detail from the Government about the process of engaging a productive local workforce.
“Australian farmers always prefer to engage local workers when they are available, however in the majority of times, locals don’t apply. We are not work for the dole providers – where the Government wants to see long-term unemployed engaged in farm work, they should support the grower to provide skilling and training opportunities to aid the productivity not just of the farm, but most importantly for the farm worker.”
“There are many different jobs to be done on a farm, and some farms operate with a small staff for 90 per cent of the year.  However, when the harvest is on, it is all hands on deck – while many hands make light work, it is equally important that we are focussed on productivity and getting the job done quickly and safely.”
Mr Gaeta said the additional support for a locally-developed accreditation scheme was welcome.
“NSW Farmers looks forward to working with Growcom to develop and deliver the Fair Farms Initiative.  This scheme is yet another example of what can be achieved when the sector, united, works to achieve a common goal,” Mr Gaeta said.
Date: Monday 5 November 2018
Media Contact:   Kathleen Curry  |  Public Affairs Director | 0429 011 690