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Australian Agriculture Worker Visa takes a step closer to delivering for farmers after being signed into law

The Australian Agriculture Worker Visa (Ag Visa) is a step closer to fruition, after the Federal Government amended the Migration Regulations, enabling it to be operationalized with a supporting program administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Minister for Agriculture and Northern Australia, David Littleproud says it is a landmark moment for the sector and it delivers on the government’s promise to have the visa signed into law this year. The regulation provides a new Australian Agriculture Worker stream which will provide for the entry and temporary stay of workers across primary industries sectors, and provides the pathway for workers to arrive once partner country negotiations are complete – hopefully some by the end of the year.

“The Ag Visa will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for our critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s greatest challenges in recent history,” Mr Littleproud said. “It will be open to applicants from a range of countries and we are already in talks with a number of countries in our region who are eager to participate. It will complement the Pacific programs we have got in place which have been critical in supporting our primary industries to date. The Pacific will remain the key pathway for the sector to access workers for this harvest, with the government committing to double the number of Pacific workers in Australia by March 2022.”

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Photo courtesy: The Nationals Party’s Ag Visa promotional video.

The Australian Fresh Produce Alliance (AFPA) welcomes the amendment, saying it will reduce the industry’s reliance on backpackers and better complement the ongoing engagement of Pacific workers and Australians in seasonal harvest roles. It will provide for the entry and temporary stay of workers, enabling the recruitment of short-term seasonal and longer-term worker cohorts.

“From a horticulture perspective, our sector has a large number of short term, highly seasonal roles that often see workers move between employers and locations following harvest work,” AFPA CEO, Michael Rogers said. “The parameters for the Ag Visa outlined today are positive in enabling visa holders to pursue seasonal roles across the industry and return to these roles year on year. Importantly, the Ag Visa will be critical to both allowing the industry to develop a productive and returning workforce and restructuring the sector’s harvest workforce. We are very clear in how the Ag Visa fits within the horticulture industry’s employment options – that is specifically targeting seasonal harvest work peaks. This perfectly complements the ongoing employment of Australians, Pacific workers and other skilled migration pathways available.”

Citrus Australia
Also welcoming the news was Australia’s peak citrus body, Citrus Australia, with CEO Nathan Hancock saying the support from those within the government who prioritized this visa has not gone unnoticed.

“They have recognized the significant contribution of the agriculture sector to the national economy and the importance of supporting thousands of farmers,” Mr. Hancock said. “The skills shortage has been a long-term issue for growers and this visa will enable the industry to arrest the decline. On behalf of them, we thank the government for committing all government departments to work together on delivering the agriculture visa. There has been tremendous work behind the scenes by members of both Coalition parties, and by government departments, to implement regulations for the visa by the 30th of September as promised. It is an important first step for a long-term, sustainable pathway to secure skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers for the citrus industry.”

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Citrus Australia has already been consulting its members on how the visa could be utilized by their businesses.

“We look forward to contributing to the visa framework to ensure it benefits both growers and ASEAN workers who want to build a career in the agriculture industry,” Mr. Hancock said. “The agriculture visa will not only provide confidence to our citrus growers to continue to invest in their export programs but enables them to focus on attracting returning workers to their farms and pack sheds, leading to increased efficiencies in their business.”

National Farmers’ Federation
The National Farmers’ Federation had been campaigning for the visa for more than five years, and Chief Executive Tony Mahar says it will widen the recruitment opportunities for low to highly skilled workers from ASEAN countries, while the NFF believes negotiations are well underway to extend the visa to other countries.

“The Ag Visa is a bespoke instrument designed to specifically address agriculture’s many and varied skill deficits. To be most effective the Visa must be portable and allow workers to move between farms based on work demand,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to work with Minister Littleproud and the Government on the details of the Visa and how it can best cater for farmers and workers.”

The NFF have labeled this as “new dawn for agriculture’s workforce” but have also addressed claims by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) that Ag Visa holders would be at risk of mistreatment by calling them nothing more than an attempt at “cheap and uninformed point scoring”.

“If the ACTU would bother to educate themselves, they would know the NFF had always recommended the Visa be open only to farmers who can demonstrate that they take care of their workforce and who haven’t been able to hire locally,” Mr. Mahar said. “Providing a positive and safe experience for farm workers is a core tenet of the Visa and of paramount importance to the NFF.”

Mr. Mahar adds that the onus is now on state and territory governments and their chief health officers to approve quarantine arrangements to safely house incoming foreign workers, including consideration of on-farm quarantine.

A fact sheet from the Australian Government with information on the Ag Visa can be found on the DFAT website.

 

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Israel announces creation of global seed company

Two Israeli seed producers, Nirit Seeds and TomaTech, have joined forces to create Israel’s largest vegetable seed company. This synergy will enable unique seed breeding research and development that will accelerate the company’s growth in the international seed markets.

Upon completion of the merger, the company will have more than 80 employees worldwide, including molecular biologists, breeders, agronomists, and others.
The company will improve its breeding activities in Israel, Spain, Mexico and Italy, as well as significantly expand its representation in the Netherlands and North America, with a particular focus on growing vegetables in high-tech greenhouses.

Nirit Seeds is one of the most successful internationally traded tomato and pepper seed producers, investing in the development of revolutionary genetic technologies. TomaTech is one of the leading tomato seed companies in Israel, developing premium varieties, including those resistant to the dangerous Tomato Brown Ruffle Virus (ToBRFV).

The production of crop seeds is one of the most advanced and high-tech sectors in Israel. According to the Seed Department of the Federation of Israel Chambers of Commerce, seed exports currently generate $200 million in annual revenue. There are about 25 large and medium-sized companies in the local industry.

For reference. According to market research, the global vegetable seed industry is valued at $8 billion a year and is growing at a CAGR of 8%.

Prepared according to https://www.freshplaza.com

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Karachay-Cherkessia became one of the leaders in the production of greenhouse vegetables at the end of 2021

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Greenhouse vegetable production in 2021 reached a record 1.4 million tonnes. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the leaders among the regions in this segment are the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Lipetsk, Moscow, Kaluga, Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Saratov, Chelyabinsk regions, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. These regions account for more than 60% of the total production in the country. The intensive development of greenhouse projects in our country helps to provide Russians with fresh vegetables all year round. Last year, the harvest in winter greenhouses updated the 2020 record – more than 1.4 million tons of products were received. Including the production of cucumbers amounted to at least 830 thousand tons, and tomatoes – 590 thousand tons. It is expected that by 2025 the volume of vegetable production in year-round greenhouses will be at least 1.6 million tons of vegetables.

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December: Special Year Overview

In 2022, it will be 22 year since the new millennium started. Can’t believe it? Neither can we, but it is true. Before we go there, it is time to reflect on what has happened this year. Over the next couple of weeks, we will look back at 2021 and we will highlight the most important events that impacted the industry.

New greenhouses, events, even a few shows, technical novelties, and all other relevant news will pass by, offering you something other than Covid to talk about during Christmas and New Years’.

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Wish your customers Happy Holidays
This special also offers an opportunity to put your company in the spotlight with a banner in this special box. This banner can be booked until December 24 on our newsletters. For more information, feel free to send an email to: info@hortidaily.com 

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