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Labour survey ‘unhelpful’ says NFF

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Federal Government findings released last week that claimed agriculture faced no significant difficulty sourcing labour have been labelled ‘unhelpful’ by the National Farmers Federation (NFF), which says they are at odds with the peak body’s own data.

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES) The Demand for Farm Workers Farm Survey 2018 found that out of the 2,400 farms surveyed across broadacre, dairy, horticulture and some irrigation industries, vacancies were generally filled, and recruitment difficulties were similar or less common than other businesses in the economy.

Specifically the report found “Few horticulture farms had difficulty recruiting, but a higher proportion of dairy and broadacre farms had difficulties. For horticulture farmers in particular, the low skilled nature of the work, the use of contract labour and access to backpackers appears to reduce recruitment difficulties faced.”

“Strangely, this is almost the exact opposite of what NFF members report the situation to be,” NFF CEO Tony Mahar said in a press release.

“We are concerned that the findings are unhelpful in providing up-to-date data and positive steps that can be taken to deliver policies and initiatives to widen the farm workforce pool.”

The NFF’s own labour survey found 43% of farmers experienced labour shortages during peak season, 23 per cent said they had a constant labour shortage, and only 21 per cent said they never experienced shortages.

“Despite the findings by ABARES, we remain firmly of the view that there is a problem,” said Tony.

Greater Shepparton City Council, Moira Shire, and Campaspe Shire in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley last week released their own labour market shortages survey to assess the need for seeking a Designated Area Migrant Agreement (DAMA) in the region.

A Designated Area Migrant Agreement sees a certain number of migrants able to work full time in our region for a certain period with the ability to apply for permanent residency after four years, at the earliest.

Greater Shepparton City Council Chief Executive Officer, Peter Harriott said a DAMA would enable migrants to establish themselves within the region and become part of our community, providing employees to fill long-term vacancies that have not been able to be filled by the usual means.

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