Ag visa a boost for farmers, but Victoria falling behind on seasonal worker promise

Today, the Federal Liberal and Nationals Government brokered an agreement for an ag visa as part of the UK free trade agreement (FTA) – a welcome relief for Victorian farmers who can’t find labourers locally.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the Commonwealth’s ag visa was a positive step to secure the farm workers we need to support our booming agriculture sector.

Meanwhile, barely half the promised number of seasonal workers have been delivered in Victoria just two weeks from the State Government’s June 30 deadline.

“The Federal Liberal and Nationals have stepped up to deliver a national scheme that will make it easier for our farmers to fill the jobs that are so crucial to their work feeding our nation,” Mr Walsh said.

“I commend Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud for standing firm to ensure this ag visa got off the ground as part of the current FTA negotiations.

“Sadly, here in Victoria the state Labor Government is obsessed with playing the blame game with the Commonwealth, while failing to deliver on its own promises to our farmers.

“In January, Labor’s Agriculture Minister promised 1500 seasonal workers would be on Victorian farms “over the first half of 2021”, but we’re now at mid-June and less than 850 are on-farm.

“Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Victorian economy and will be crucial to revive our state post-COVID.

“But instead of championing our farmers’ role in our state’s recovery, the Labor Government is acting as a roadblock to productivity and profitability.”

The Federal Government’s ag visa will see a two-way visa established between the UK and Australia for farm workers, with a new visa to be established to bring in farm workers from 10 ASEAN countries.

It follows the Commonwealth’s work earlier this year to fast-track visas for seasonal workers destined for Victorian farms.

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