The Queensland Government has launched a campaign to attract winter harvest workers to the state’s food bowls.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the #pickqld Winter Harvest 2021 campaign was targeting jobseekers across the country, as well those who escape winter in Queensland and stay in regional areas.
“Our agricultural industries have worked hard to keep food on our plates during the pandemic,” Mr Furner said.
“It is well known that working holiday makers are a traditional source of peak demand labour for our winter harvest, but with no backpackers from overseas there are now even jobs for the picking across Queensland.
“We are supporting our food providers by encouraging people from all walks of life and age groups, who are looking for something different and are in the position to relocate for short-term work, to give a farm job a go.”
Mr Furner said the #pickqld campaign was one of a number of initiatives the Queensland Government had in place to support food supply to consumers.
“Queensland residents travelling to take up harvest work could be eligible for up to $1500 under the Back to Work in Agriculture Incentive Scheme,” Mr Furner said.
“There is also support to industry through Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network officers and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ regionally-based Agriculture Coordination Officers who work with growers on workforce issues including recruitment, training and retention.
“The Department is also supporting quarantine arrangements for agricultural workers arriving as part of the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program.”
Queensland Strawberry Growers Association president Adrian Schultz said the strawberry industry was facing the most challenging growing season in its long history.
“Growers have made a significant investment in buying and planting strawberry runners, and without the right number of workers available to harvest the crop across the winter our farms face serious financial consequences,” Mr Schultz said.
“It’s good to see support from the Queensland Government for an industry that is worth around $180m at the farm gate.
“We also provide employment and a whole host of flow-through community benefits for the major growing regions north of Brisbane and around Bundaberg.”
Mr Schultz said the industry was excited for people of all ages who are fit and able to come and give work on a strawberry farm a go this winter.
“We won’t deny that you will need to work hard, but the rewards are certainly there for people who are prepared to put the effort in, plus with our promotional incentive, you could end up as one of the lucky contestants playing for the chance to win up to $100,000 at the end of the season.”
Whitsundays-based tomato, capsicum and cucumber farmer Carl Walker, who is featured in the campaign, said farm jobs offered some unique work experiences in the fantastic Queensland winter weather outdoors, the opportunity to meet new people and travel and live in a different part of the state.
“Our message to people who want to give it a go, is please, come and help us harvest our crops, visit our wonderful rural and regional communities and have a great time living and working somewhere different,” Mr Walker said.
Another star of the campaign is Joanne, a #pickqld pioneer who took up the challenge in summer, changing from an office job to pick plums in Stanthorpe.
“Our farmers need workers to harvest food, so I gave fruit picking a go,” she said.
“It was such a great change of pace and mental break from the city clients and deadlines.
“It was a challenge at first, but it has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I even got $1500 to help relocate.”
For farm jobs, incentives and visitor accommodation and experiences, visit #pickqld.