New incentives, subsidies and programs are being rolled out in a bidding war by the states to solve a chronic shortage of farm labour.
The $13 billion annual horticulture sector, in particular, relies heavily on overseas backpackers and interstate seasonal workers to harvest crops.
COVID has drastically shrunk this workforce leaving fruit and vegetable growers across the country scrambling to find seasonal labour.
Cash and other incentives to lure some of the thousands of Australians who lost their jobs because of COVID into the bush to do farm work have largely failed.
Queensland strawberry growers are now offering cash prizes of up to $100,000 in a bid to attract enough overseas workers to harvest the state’s crop this winter.