LABOUR shortages exacerbated by COVID-19 may slowly be starting to ease, but the overall issue is far from over.
According to the 2021 Seek Salary Report, in July last year there were almost 450 jobs advertised in the farming category but less than 100 candidates available.
In comparison, in March 2020 there were just over 200 agricultural jobs advertised and over 150 candidates in supply.
From a backpacker point of view, farmers around Australia should start to see more people arriving now the borders have opened which makes it a lot easier to access that stream of labour.
However, according to Inspire Ag director Sally Murfet from a longer-term visa, migration and training point of view there were other issues which need looking at it.
"At the end of March the Federal government announced that the first country had signed up to its new ag visa program, however as an election commitment prior to that we were promised 10 countries signed up to that scheme," Ms Murfet said.
"So far we haven't really seen any details on how that's going to work and it makes it hard for anyone working in the recruitment space to have any real answers around that."
Ms Murfet believes one of the key issues impacting the supply of agricultural labour in Australia is that the underlying framework for skilled migration is flawed.
The skilled occupation list is one which the government uses to determine eligibility for skilled migration and there are a handful of agricultural occupations included.
However on the Australian Apprenticeship Priority List, which the government uses to determine employee eligibility for wage subsidies to take on and train appreciates, there are only two agricultural occupations - agricultural technician and shearer.
"We're letting people into Australia to work within a handful of occupations that are on that list, but there's only two jobs that have been given priority to train our own Australian citizens to do," Ms Muffett said.
"There's a whole heap of band aid solutions being put in place, like the ag visa, but the bucket still has a lot of leaky holes which haven't been addressed.
"There's a big disparity there and we need more skills to be the focus for training for our own people because we're screaming out for people and can not get the supply of them."
While the government has a lot to answer for in terms of helping ease the labour crisis, Mr Murfet said farmers also need to look at what long-term strategies and planning they could put in place.
"Labour shortages aren't just limited to a supply and demand issue, it's also about farmers setting up the right foundations to be a great employer to help attract people," she said.
"Workforce planning and development, as well as ensuring policies and procedures are in place are important and farmers need to get really innovative about how roles are marketed to attract candidates."
Want weekly news highlights delivered to your inbox? Sign up to the Farm Weekly newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.