AN ever-present threat of agricultural workforce shortage is set to be addressed by a new seasonal agricultural visa in the wake of the Australia–UK FTA agreement announced this week.

As part of the FTA negotiations the working holiday visa age limit will increase to 35 and the maximum length of stay has been extended to three years.

“A new visa will be established to ensure we increase the number of UK backpackers willing and able to undertake agricultural work, building on and adding to the success of the existing Pacific Labour Scheme,” Member for Barker, Tony Pasin said.

The new visa will be modelled on the existing Seasonal Worker Program and is expected to be up and running for UK citizens by the end of the year before being expanded to all ten ASEAN countries.

“Our agricultural work force has been hit hard by international travel restrictions on the back of COVID.

“South Australia has led the way with the quarantine facility at Paringa. This really saved the SA citrus crop this year and hopefully when the new Agricultural Visa comes into effect, we can be equally accommodating to help more farmers get our produce off the trees, out of the ground and off to market.

“Our Agricultural industry is on track to reach a record breaking $66.3 billion year. It’s an industry that, with the help of our 15 free trade agreements has huge potential. A reliable workforce is vital to help reach this potential and that’s what this new ag visa hopes to achieve,” Mr Pasin said.