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Election 2019: NFF clears up Ag Visa 'myths' & says bipartisan stalemate is hurting farmers
9 May 2019
Both the Coalition and Labor have acknowledged agriculture's workforce crisis but have so far failed to commit to a key part of the solution, the introduction of an Agriculture Visa.
President Fiona Simson said the NFF had engaged with the Government, Opposition, minor parties and independents consistently for more than two years now on the concept of an Ag Visa.
"Despite this, the stalemate continues with party's dodging and weaving in a bid to buy time.
"The truth is the NFF has provided comprehensive information and modelling to both parties and the ball is now firmly in their court."
Both the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud and Labor's Agriculture spokesperson, Joel Fitzgibbon committed to taking action to address agriculture's crippling labour shortage in a debate at the National Press Club yesterday. But neither would commit to the delivery of an Ag Visa, saying they needed more time or more information.
"The truth is farmers don't have one minute more to waste," Ms Simson said.
"With each planting and harvest that passes productivity goes unrealised and regional communities are deprived of much needed cash injections."
To clear up frequently cited objections to an Ag Visa, the NFF has today published a Myth Buster at www.farmers.org.au. The first 'myth' proposed is that there is no clear concept of how an Ag Visa would work.
"The fact is the NFF has taken the leg work out of the architecture of an Ag Visa for whatever party decides to take up the baton.
"As long ago as 2017, the NFF circulated modelling, which has been adapted in response to feedback from the Government, the Opposition, industry, unions and other stakeholders in agriculture's workforce.
"We've done the hard work of putting the key pieces together, it's now ready for whoever forms Government to make an Ag Visa a reality."
The National Farmers' Federation has a goal for agriculture to be a $100 billion industry by 2030, up from about $60 billion today.
"It's a vision, which we are pleased to have bipartisan support for," Ms Simson said.
"A significant constraint to achieving this goal is farmers' inability to access the workers they need to get the job done.
"Delays and decoys on the implementation of a clear solution to the problem, an Ag Visa, are not lost on farmers.
"Like all meaningful policy, the introduction of an Ag Visa will require foresight and conviction.
"We hope to see both from one or ideally, both, major parties, before farmers go to the polls on 18 May," Ms Simson said.
Explore our Agriculture: Growing Australian election priorities at farmers.org.au.
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