National Farmers Federation survey zeroes-in on labour demands as COVID hits numbers

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has today launched the 2020 edition of its annual Farm Workforce Survey.

In order to help farmers better understand and prepare for the impact of COVID-19 on the farm labour workforce, this year’s survey focuses specifically on determining where the demand for workers is highest and how those workers are typically sourced.

The outcome of this will be a more sophisticated and efficient response to workforce demands over the next 12 months and a more effective targeting of measures to help farmers maintain worker numbers and productivity.

NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said that COVID-19 was having an impact on farmers and the availability of farm workers – particularly in areas where demand is already high.

“We are aware that our horticulture sector, in particular, is facing worse-than-usual labour shortages as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions,” Mr Mahar said.

“As a result, we are in the process of assessing the impact of COVID-19 and border closures on the farm labour force but we do expect that as restrictions continue to ease, backpackers will return to the hospitality sector.

“The NFF, through its Horticulture Council, is working with members and industry representatives about the issue and will continue to work with Government to ensure Australian agriculture has access to secure a job workforce.”

The survey aims to collect evidence that will specifically indicate the scale and locality of demand for workers on a month-by-month basis over the coming year.

The NFF is asking farmers across all sectors to participate in the online survey.

“We want farmers input on this issue and are asking them to think about the impact this could have on their farm business and to start planning now,” Mr Mahar said.

“By filling out this survey, farmers will help us develop effective solutions to present to Government.

“The survey only takes 5 minutes to complete but will be crucial in shaping the NFF’s policies and advice to Government in how best to meet the need for workers across the country.”

The NFF has a vision for agriculture to reach $100 billion in farm gate output by 2030 and securing a sustainable and stable workforce that ensures access to both skilled and non-skilled labour is crucial.

“To achieve our ambitious goal of growing Australian agriculture to a $100 billion industry by 2030, we must respond swiftly to the challenges facing agriculture, especially during these uncertain times.

“The survey will allow us to put solutions on the table meaning farmers can get on with the job and do what they do best.”

The survey can be accessed here.

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