Migration Paper Prompts Renewed Calls For Farm Visa

The National Farmers’ Federation has acknowledged the Regional Migration Discussion Paper released today, which it says should kickstart a robust discussion on getting migration settings right for farmers and regional Australia.

While the paper considers all regional migration settings, it shines a spotlight on the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program.

NFF Acting CEO Charlie Thomas said in just the second half of last year, almost 12,000 working holiday makers chose to work in agriculture.

“Backpackers play critical role in our farm workforce. The fact is without them, we’d simply see farmers walk away from farming.”

A survey the NFF conducted earlier this year found farmers would change what they grow or even walk away from farming if their access to overseas workers was reduced.

“63% of farmers said removing the 88-day work incentive would have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on their business.”

Mr Thomas highlighted backpackers were unique in being able to provide a range of skills to the sector, while injecting thousands of dollars back into regional communities.

“Research has shown backpackers want a true blue Aussie experience, throwing themselves into the communities inside and outside their work. This generates billions for the tourism economy.”

The Discussion Paper points to the need to guarantee safe and rewarding work for backpackers during their 88 days. The NFF said industry was committed to playing its part.

“There is no place in our industry for people who don’t look after their workers,” Mr Thomas said.

“We’re open to practical solutions that address the issue directly, rather than simply shutting off access to workers.

“We continue to say a purpose-built agriculture visa is the smart solution.

“A dedicated visa would be responsive to the industry’s unique needs, minimise administrative and financial burdens, safeguard workers against exploitation and attract people who want to work on farm.

“It ticks all the boxes. We strongly urge the government to put this back on the agenda as a holistic solution.”

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