• ALFA

Labour shortages in the feedlot industry

ALFA is aware of the current shortages in access to labour in Agriculture and the impact this is having on the feedlot industry and many of our member’s businesses.


The information provided below is a summary of government initiatives and resources that may assist and support your feedlot business find suitable people for your Team.


There is information on:

  • Federal Government Labour Access Schemes

  • Federal Government Grants, Incentives and programs to attract employees

  • Federal Government initiatives to address labour shortages

  • Other Resources

The Federal Minister for Agriculture, The Hon. David Littleproud, announced in June that the federal government is planning a new Seasonal Agricultural Workforce Visa (Ag Visa). An update on the status of that is provided below.


ALFA remains active in highlighting the labour shortage issue, supporting development of the dedicated Agriculture Visa and encouraging development of appropriate pathways to migration permanency to grow and retain access to labour in Agriculture and our sector.


Federal Government Labour Access Schemes


Pacific Labour Scheme

The Pacific Labour Scheme is designed to help fill labour shortages in key industries, particularly in agriculture. This is an Australian Government initiative that connects workers with rural and regional Australian businesses and supports the economic prosperity of 9 Pacific islands and Timor-Leste.

The Australian Government has established guidelines for employers interested in recruiting unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled workers from Pacific island countries or Timor-Leste. To take advantage of the programs you must become an approved employer - click here to check your availability and download the Employers Guide on how to become involved.

More Information: To find out more, head to the dedicated Pacific Labour Mobility website and check out the Question and Answer.


Seasonal Worker Programme

The Seasonal Worker Programme is designed to help fill labour shortages in key industries, particularly in agriculture. The Seasonal Worker Programme offers employers in the agriculture sector and employers in selected locations in the accommodation sector access to a reliable, returning workforce when there is not enough local Australian labour to meet seasonal demand.

More Information: To find out more, head to the Seasonal Worker Programme website, check out the Question and Answer.


Australian Apprenticeships Program

The Australian Apprenticeships Program is designed to help employers hire apprentices. When employers hire an apprentice they may be eligible to receive incentives. Incentives are subject to eligibility criteria, waiting periods and time limits and there is a guide for employees that explains this in more detail.

When you are ready to employ an apprentice, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (Apprenticeship Network) provider. Apprenticeship Network providers give advice and help with recruiting, training and retaining Australian Apprentices.

More information: Click here.


Harvest Trail Services

Harvest Trail Services connect employers with workers in harvesting, regional and rural areas across Australia. Harvest jobs can be found in the Harvest Trail Jobs Board which is a free Australian Government service to help connect employers with potential workers where you can advertise for jobs vacancies.

More information: Click here.


Jobactive website

The jobactive website is an on line jobs board operated by the Federal Government and enables employers to advertise for and find prospective employees. The Federal Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment manages the jobactive website.

More information: Click here.


Federal Government Grants, Incentives and programs to attract employees


Grants to attract employees to rural areas - Regional Employment Trials

Recognising that some regions face challenges in terms of employment opportunities and growth, the Australian Government has introduced the Regional Employment Trials (RET) program in 10 disadvantaged regions. This is a Local Employment Initiative Fund of $10 million, providing grants of between $7,500 and $200,000 to local stakeholders in 10 regions for employment related projects. Eligible regions being supported through this initiative include:

  • South Australia: Murraylands and Riverland RDA and Yorke and Mid North RDA

  • Queensland: Townsville and NorthWest

  • NSW: Northern Inland RDA

More information: Click here


Relocation Assistance

Relocation Assistance to Take Up a Job (RATTUAJ) is an Australian Government program that assists eligible participants to relocate to take up an offer of employment. Relocation assistance helps participants accept work outside of their area by removing the financial barriers that can prevent people relocating. If an employee is relocating to take up ongoing work, including an apprenticeship, for more than 20 hours a week for more than six months, they may be eligible to receive up to$6,000 if you relocate to a regional area and an extra $3,000 if they relocate with a dependent.


More information: For employers click here and for employees click here.


Career Revive - Supporting employers to attract and retain women returning to work after a career break

Career Revive is a Government initiative for businesses who want to strengthen their business recruitment practices to better recruit and retain women. For each intake of Career Revive at least 10 of the businesses selected to participate will be regional medium to large businesses. Businesses can apply to participate in the Career Revive initiative via an expression of interest process.


More information: Click here.


Career Transition Assistance program (45+)

The Career Transition Assistance program is designed to help mature-age job seekers, aged 45 years and over, to build their confidence and skills to become more competitive in the local labour market.


More Information: Click here.


Collaborative Partnership on Mature Age Employment

Mature age Australians have a valuable contribution to make to the workplace. The Collaborative Partnership on Mature Age Employment (the Partnership) helps to promote the benefits of employing older workers.


More Information: Click here.


Community Development Program for remote Australia

The Community Development Program (CDP) is the Australian Government’s remote employment and community development service. CDP supports job seekers in remote Australia to build skills, address barriers and contribute to their communities through a range of flexible activities. It is designed around the unique social and labour market conditions in remote Australia and is part of the Australian Government’s agenda for increasing employment and breaking the cycle of welfare dependency.


More information: Click here.


Wage subsidies

Wage subsidies are a financial incentive to encourage employers to hire eligible participants in ongoing jobs by contributing to the initial costs of hiring a new employee. Wage subsidies can help to build a business and give employers greater flexibility in their hiring options. The Australian Government will increase the maximum amount offered for all wage subsidies delivered through employment services providers to $10,000 from 1 July 2021 to 31 June 2022.

Up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) may be available for new employees who are: 15 to 29 years of age, Indigenous Australians, 50 years of age and over, a parent, or registered with an employment services provider for 12 months or more.


More information: Click here.


Federal Government initiatives to address labour shortages


Federal Government Commitment to a dedicated Agriculture Visa

On 17 June, the Federal Minister for Agriculture The Hon. David Littleproud announced the Federal government is planning a new Seasonal Agricultural Workforce Visa (Ag Visa). Minister Littleproud has said the new visa – to be in place before the end of this year (2021) – would enable workers from the 10 ASEAN nations to work in Australia for up to nine months, three years in a row. The seasonal agricultural worker visa was announced at a time when the government agreed to no longer require UK backpackers to complete a period of time working on Australian farms.


Encouragingly, the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has since indicated the government is open to giving migrant workers on the new agriculture visa a pathway to citizenship.


ALFA is supportive of a dedicated Agriculture Visa coupled with appropriate pathways to migration permanency. Access to more permanent labour solutions through migration will ensure Agriculture and the feedlot industry can continue to grow and retain access to labour.


ALFA has been engaged with the Minister’s office regarding the new Seasonal Agricultural Workforce Visa (Ag Visa). Details are still being worked through by the Government and are not currently available.


ALFA is also working closely with the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) and the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) to:

  1. Highlight labour shortage issues in Agriculture and our sector.

  2. Support development of the dedicated Agriculture Visa to grow and retain access to labour in Agriculture and our sector.

  3. Support development of appropriate pathways to migration permanency to grow and retain access to labour in Agriculture and our sector.

ALFA will continue to liaise with the Minister’s office and industry bodies to advocate for the above.

Feedlot members are encouraged to have dialogue with their local members to highlight these points also.


Pacific Labour Mobility Consultation

The Government is seeking submissions by 18 July 2021 from interested stakeholders on options for further enhancing Australia’s highly successful Pacific labour mobility initiatives: the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS). On 10 June, Ministers Littleproud, Payne, Robert, Seselja and Hawke, announced a six week period of public consultation. A discussion paper was released. The consultation period will close on 18 July 2021. The process involves answering 8 short questions designed to inform government policy in this area.

More information: Click here.


Other Resources


Federal Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment works to ensure Australians can experience the wellbeing and economic benefits that quality education, skills and employment provide. The department’s website contains useful resources to assist businesses and individuals with employment.


More information: Click here.


NSW Government employment and jobs

More information: Click here.


NSW Government - Help Harvest NSW

More information: Click here.


NSW Government - Agribusiness recruitment agencies

More information: Click here. (Scroll down to a summary of agencies who specialist in recruiting for agriculture)