More than 550 Pacific Island workers are scheduled to arrive in Queensland during the next two months to help ease the state's farm labour shortage.
Queensland's Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner said the new arrivals would complement the 1223 who had already arrived and started work.
He said the Queensland Government was working with industry to bring more quarantine capacity online for overseas workers to work on the state's farms.
COVID-19 had created a difficult environment for attracting farm labour with tens of thousands of backpackers leaving the country in the face of the pandemic.
"More than 76 new Pacific workers will arrive to start work in the Burdekin today, followed by 160 in the Lockyer Valley and another 72 in the Wide Bay region in the next couple of weeks," Mr Furner said.
"Another 245 workers will arrive to work in Central, North and Far North Queensland before the end of May.
"The thousands of seasonal jobs on offer every season in Queensland have always been filled by a balance of local and overseas workers.
"We are standing shoulder to shoulder with our farmers to help them access the labour they need."
Queensland Government assistance includes:
- Supporting applications and COVID compliance for on-farm quarantine facility approvals;
- Helping farmers find local workforce solutions through the Queensland Agricultural Workforce Network;
- Incentives up to $1500 to help Queensland workers with travel and accommodation costs to take up farm work; and
- The launch of the #PickQld campaign to attract more Australian workers to Queensland farms.
"Agriculture in Queensland is undoubtedly a great opportunity for people who are willing to have a go," Mr Furner said.
"There are still many opportunities for Queenslanders to take up these jobs and I would love to see them accept that challenge and support our farmers."
The Queensland Government has launched a campaign to attract winter harvest workers to the state's food bowls.
The campaign is targeting job seekers across the country as well those who escape winter in Queensland and stay in regional areas.
"Queensland residents travelling to take up harvest work could be eligible for up to $1500 under the Back to Work in Agriculture Incentive Scheme," Mr Furner said.
Queensland Strawberry Growers Association president Adrian Schultz said the strawberry industry was facing the most challenging growing season in its long history.
"Growers have made a significant investment in buying and planting strawberry runners and without the right number of workers available to harvest the crop across the winter our farms face serious financial consequences," Mr Schultz said.
"It's good to see support from the Queensland Government for an industry that is worth around $180 million at the farm gate."
Whitsundays-based tomato, capsicum and cucumber farmer Carl Walker, who is featured in the campaign, said farm jobs offered some unique work experiences in the fantastic Queensland winter weather outdoors, the opportunity to meet new people and travel and live in a different part of the state.
"Our message to people who want to give it a go, is please come and help us harvest our crops, visit our wonderful rural and regional communities and have a great time living and working somewhere different," Mr Walker said.
Another star of the campaign is Joanne, a #pickqld pioneer who took up the challenge in summer, changing from an office job to pick plums in Stanthorpe.
"Our farmers need workers to harvest food, so I gave fruit picking a go," she said.
The story Queensland ramps up efforts to fill farm labour jobs first appeared on Farm Online.