It is an unfortunate reality that the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted Australia’s seasonal agricultural workforce, posing major challenges for the upcoming summer harvest.
That’s why the Morrison Government is investing $33.7 million to support farmers by encouraging and incentivising Australians to take a ‘domestic gap year’ to work in the agriculture sector this season.
Through the 2020 Budget, the Government has committed $17.4 million in relocation assistance and $16.3 million to incentivise young Australians to take up farm work by temporarily changing Youth Allowance (student) independence eligibility criteria.
As part of the Government’s relocation assistance package, from 1 November 2020 up to $6,000 in financial support will be made available to Australians who move into a regional area to take up agricultural work.
Meanwhile, temporary changes to Youth Allowance will encourage more young people to take up employment on farms. From 30 November 2020 to 31 December 2021, a person who earns $15,000 by working in the agricultural sector will be considered independent as part of the Youth Allowance eligibility criteria.
Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry welcomed both measures and said that they would provide a much-needed boost to farmers, who are facing immediate and major workforce shortages across the nation.
“Famers have done it especially tough during this pandemic and we know that they are facing enormous pressure with a widespread lack of seasonal workers,” Ms Landry said.
“The Government has acted decisively to address this challenge, and I hope that these incentives will make a real difference for our farmers, who will be front-and-centre of Australia’s recovery out of the pandemic”.
These measures build on the Morrison Government’s $328 million Busting Congestion for Agricultural Exporters Package announced in the Budget, which will bolster the agricultural sector by slashing red-tape and strengthening export markets for farmers.