AUSVEG welcomes today’s announcement by the Federal Government regarding proposed amendments to the Pacific Seasonal Worker Programme that will help farmers access foreign workers during peak periods.

The changes announced today will mean that individual caps on industry, in relation to horticulture, cotton, cane and aquaculture, will be removed, while the limit of 12,000 workers will remain.

The vegetable and potato industries have reacted positively to these decisions as they will promote flexibility and allow change in the number of workers required per industry, where required in the future.

Australian vegetable and potato growers are however still calling for an expansion to the Seasonal Workers Program to include South East Asian nations, such as Thailand and Vietnam.

“Labour shortages are a national issue and something many Australian growers grapple with. We would back any initiatives that make it easier for Australian growers to source the necessary workforce to get the job done,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Andrew MacDonald.

“While the changes to the Seasonal Worker Programme are a good start, AUSVEG would also like to see expansions to the Working Holiday Visa Programme to encompass more countries, such as the Czech Republic and Israel.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

“Backpackers have a long tradition of travelling to Australia and picking up jobs on farms to supplement their travels and many farmers have come to rely on backpacker workforces to address seasonal labour shortages,” said Mr MacDonald.

“The benefits of the Working Holiday Visa program are two-fold because backpackers are not only earning good money, and gaining eligibility to extend their stays in Australia, but the Australian grower is getting access to a greater work force.”

“Expanding existing Working Holiday Visa agreements to include more countries would undoubtedly go some way to addressing labour issues in the Australian vegetable and potato industries, while also giving more young people from overseas the opportunity to travel and work in our great country.”

AUSVEG has also recently raised concerns about the tourism industry’s proposal that foreigners in Australia on working holiday visas be able to qualify for a second year on their visa by engaging in seasonal work within the tourism industry.

The industry believes that Australian grower’s reliance on the tens of thousands of backpackers working on farms and at packing facilities each year would definitely be threatened should the tourism industry win its bid to have visa eligibility criteria loosened to include tourism work.


  Andrew MacDonald, AUSVEG Manager – Communications

Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0406 836 330 Email: