Incentives to Attract Farm Workers in Australia

The food industry in Australia has issued a warning about a serious worker shortage in the supply chain. This critical shortage amounts to around 172 000 workers across the whole supply chain.

The Food Supply Chain Alliance (FSCA), which represents more than 160,000 businesses, highlighted the crisis. The organisation went on to urge the federal government to put a food chain strategy in place to alleviate risk from this and future challenges. The businesses and organisations represented by the FSCA include the National Farmers Federation (NFF), the Australian Meat Industry Council, and AUSVEG. Each of them is affected by the current shortages that are already having an impact on food availability and prices.

Key points

  •     The Food Supply Chain Alliance (FSCA) in Australia has issued a warning about a serious shortage of around 172,000 workers overall.
  •       The FSCA has also indicated that the current worker shortage crisis is likely to worsen as the summer harvest arrives and farm input costs soar.
  •       Employers in the farming sector are offering incentives to attract farm workers in Australia.
  •       These incentives include sign-up bonuses, flexible working patterns, and extended leave.

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Labour shortage crisis set to worsen as demand increases

The FSCA has also indicated that the current worker shortage crisis is likely to worsen as the demand for workers increases with the arrival of the summer harvest. At this time, people will be required to work gathering crops that will otherwise be ruined. The harvest could coincide with severe weather conditions in the country which will further exacerbate the problems. Soaring farm input costs also need to be added to the mix as the cost of fertiliser and fuel continues to rise.



All of these factors come together to create a perfect storm that is causing serious concern across the food supply chain. One of the sectors that are feeling this concern the most is farming. Employers in the sector are having to offer incentives to address the current farm worker shortage in Australia. These incentives come in various forms.

Incentives forced on employers

Despite the recent initiative by the Australian government to waive visa application fees for working holidaymakers and students, there is still a severe shortage of workers on Australian farms. In the longer term, industry employers are looking to graduate programs to help address the shortage.

They are also using a variety of emergency short-term measures including offering sign-up bonuses, flexible working patterns, and extended leave. It’s a case of doing whatever they can to attract and retain workers because they are so desperate to increase the workforce.



In many cases, this includes looking at each individual separately and offering incentives that are most like to be attractive to them. This approach is looked upon by some employers as potentially being more successful than a one-size-fits-all way of attracting workers.

The vacancies that exist in the Australian farming sector cover all roles from entry-level positions to senior management jobs. The highest number of vacancies exist in skilled farm worker roles and management positions. Many of these roles are being advertised online. Although, it’s also likely that some are not being advertised at all as employers become disillusioned by the lack of response to previous adverts.

As with other sectors across the food supply chain, farming is struggling to meet its demand for workers and the situation is serious. The ongoing crisis is leading some farmers to move away from growing certain crops. This could lead to shortages in some areas which will in turn cause further price increases. So, the continuing worker shortage is not just bad news for employers, it’s also a serious concern for consumers who are already seeing their household budgets stretched and are likely to see prices increase further.


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