WHILE there are temporary shortages of workers in some regions during peak harvest periods, MADEC says that the total working hours contributed by visiting seasonal farm workers for horticulture is at an all time high.
"Growers can feel frustrated during peak harvest times when they need good workers and can't find them," MADEC national labour hire information service state manager, Peter Angel, said.
"But there are workers available if you know where to look and commit to paying them fairly."
Major sources of seasonal workers are from backpackers on Work and Holiday (462) and Working Holiday (417) visas doing rural work to secure a second-year visa, and people on Seasonal Worker Programme visas.
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Australian residents also contribute to the pool.
"The full time equivalent (FTE) number of people available to do seasonal rural work on these three visas combined is the highest it has ever been," Mr Angel said.
"MADEC sees the challenge is to ensure growers are connected with all these available workers at the right times to fill seasonal work vacancies - not a shortage of workers per se."
The big increase in workers has been in the number of Seasonal Worker Programme visas granted, which has close to doubled every two years since the programme was piloted in 2009 and fully introduced in 2012.
Up until November 5 2018, people on Seasonal Worker Programme visas could work up to six months in rural Australia.
They can now work up to nine months - adding to the labour pool.
Backpackers on Work and Holiday and Working Holiday visas wanting to get a second-year visa must do at least 88 days (three months) regional farm work.
From July 1 2019, they may stay for a third year if they do an additional six months horticulture work in regional areas. This is another significant boost to the labour pool.
"While these figures don't show the whole picture - they are a very useful indicator," Mr Angel said.
- Copy supplied by MADEC.