More than 22,000 more workers are still needed to fill labor shortages across Australia’s agriculture industry. Without these, the nation could see crop losses for farmers and price hikes in supermarkets.
The most significant shortages are emerging from the horticulture sector, which requires over 16,000 workers for its harvest beginning on the eastern seaboard in November, while the imminent grain harvest still requires over 1,000 more workers.
The federal government has introduced a range of initiatives to help fill the shortages, including the nearly 12,500 Pacific Islanders brought in as part of the Pacific labor programs, a proposed agriculture visa pending approval from participating countries, as well as over $60m in agricultural workforce measures in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 budgets. State governments have also introduced measures such as the NSW recently offering public servants paid leave to help farmers.
Industry players estimate that the price of cherries could double due to low supply coupled with increased demand, especially around Christmas. While Australians are not used to seeing empty shelves, the country could see food shortages like in England.