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​In 2016-17, 310,000 people were directly employed in production activities and associated support services across agriculture, forestry and fishing. The number of people working in these primary industries has declined over several decades, however, labour remains an essential input. Securing the future labour supply—with sufficient numbers of workers and appropriate skills—is important for the viability and competitiveness of the industry.

Recent insights

Dairy work​​force survey 2015-16

ABARES survey results show the dairy industry’s labour force needs and challenges differ compared to other agriculture industries.

About my region: regional profiles

Each regional profile presents an overview of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, land use, production, employment and farm financial performance.

What difference does labour choice make to farm productivity and profitability in the Australian horticulture industry? A comparison between seasonal workers and working holiday makers

February 2018

On average seasonal workers are 20 per cent more productive than backpackers, but their non-wage labour costs are 2.3 times higher. Productivity benefits of hiring seasonal workers likely outweigh the higher non-wage labour costs and deliver profitability gains for farmers.

Agricultural Commodity Statistics 2017

December 2017

See Table 3.2 for number of people employed in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Labour force survey

18 May 2017

Insights into vegetable, horticulture and cotton farmers’ use of labour, recent recruitment experiences and expected future labour requirements.

Diversity in Australia's agricultural, fishing and forestry industry workforce

20 Feb 2015

A diverse range of people of varying ages, genders and cultural backgrounds work in and contribute significantly to Australian agricultural, fisheries and forestry. These information sheets provide statistics and trends in employment participation and workforce demographics.

Measuring the efficiency of horticultural labour: A case study on seasonal workers and working holiday makers, Farm Policy Journal


Using payroll data from a horticulture farm in Queensland, this study found that seasonal workers were on average significantly more efficient than working holiday makers.

Last reviewed:
13 Jul 2018