Agriculture is an important pillar of the Queensland economy and fundamental to the future success of the regions. The total value of Queensland’s primary industry commodities is forecast to be well over $23 billion for 2021 – 22. This figure is made up of around $18 billion gross value of production and over $5 billion value-added production. This figure represents a 24% increase on the average value of agriculture for the past 5 years and growth across the sector is expected to continue.
Growth in agriculture is good news for the Queensland economy and regional communities. Growth usually equates to more jobs but as the workforce pinch continues to bite, farmers across the state are increasingly concerned about where they will find the workforce to operate their current enterprise, let alone support future growth.
In the lead up to the election, the federal labor government announced that they would not support the continuation of the Ag Visa. The Labor government has now taken up office and QFF call on the new government to prioritise workforce solutions as a matter of urgency.
Queensland farmers need short, medium and long-term policy that will help attract, retain and grow an appropriate workforce to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture in this state. Whilst investing in education, training, and workforce participation is vital to future workforce strategies, an effective immigration scheme is also critical to meeting industry’s workforce challenges.
The inability to find workers is not only hindering the operational capacity and future growth of many farming enterprises but also having a negative impact on the wellbeing of families and communities across Queensland. Family-run farms are finding themselves having to work longer hours and bear the load of keeping the business operating without enough staff. This is taking its toll and is not sustainable.
Other challenges including the current housing shortage are compounding the problem and QFF acknowledges that there is not one easy fix for the workforce shortage. Whilst policy that drives investment in our future local workforce is important, an effective immigration strategy must form part of the solution.
QFF calls on the federal government to prioritise this issue. QFF stands ready to work hand in hand with government to develop immediate solutions to alleviate the workforce crisis in the short term and to also work to develop long term policy to ensure workforce security to support the future growth of the Queensland agricultural sector.