Date: 23rd August 2021
Berries Australia welcomes today’s announcement of an Agriculture visa by the Australian government.
The Australian Agriculture visa will be available to workers across the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and provide a basis for the ongoing growth of Australia’s primary industries as they strive to reach $100 billion in value by 2030.
Peter McPherson, Chair of Berries Australia, said the announcement was positive news for the berry sector which had been struggling to find harvest workers since the borders closed for COVID-19.
“The $1.4 billion berry sector has a heavy reliance on manual pickers due to the soft nature of the fruit and whilst historically we have employed backpackers, a stream of dedicated workers who want to work in the sector is very welcome,” Mr McPherson said. “It is important to remember that these workers are creating jobs for Australians not taking them away as these pickers and packers mean we can employ more locals in longer-term roles and they generate significant economic activity in regional communities.”
“The Australian berry industry’s priorities are that the visa has high standards to ensure worker welfare, and that workers have the flexibility to move between growing regions and follow the harvest work.”
“Berries Australia is committed to the ethical treatment of workers and many of our growers have ethical sourcing programs like Fair Farms or SEDEX in place. We also continue to call on the government to implement a national labour-hire licensing scheme.”
“Berries Australia would like to thank Agriculture Minister Littleproud and Deputy Prime Minister Joyce for their commitment to the visa and we look forward to working with government to ensure that the visa meets the needs of the berry sector.”
We have worked closely with other industry associations such as the National Farmers’ Federation Hort Council and the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance to make the case for this visa and would like to thank them for their efforts.
For further comment please contact Rachel Mackenzie