ABARES conducts annual surveys of labour use in Australian agriculture. Results are presented in this publication using PowerBI dashboards. Users can select from a range of region options to observe trends in horticulture farm labour use and workforce characteristics and a range of industry and farm size options for broadacre and dairy farm labour use.
Read the latest analysis - Labour use in Australian agriculture
The agricultural workforce is often only considered to be those who work on-farm. However, there are a large number of people who support agriculture, or work in the agricultural supply chain, who may also be considered as working in agriculture or agriculture support occupations.
The Snapshot of Australia’s agricultural workforce uses data from the 2021 Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census of Population and Housing to describe where workers live, what industries and occupations they work in, the workforce’s mobility, educational attainment and age, and hours worked.
It also examines the involvement of women, young people, Indigenous people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and people with disability in the agricultural workforce.
This stocktake identifies sources of publicly available agricultural labour data in Australia and current information gaps. A dashboard presents the main sources of Australian agricultural labour data that are currently available, shows which questions each data source can answer, and provides information about the quality of each data source and its usefulness to policy makers and industry.
It is important to note that this stocktake may not be fully exhaustive and is current as at 30 June 2021. The dashboard will be updated intermittently if/when new data sources are made available.
The size, composition and characteristics of the Australian agricultural workforce has undergone significant change over the past two decades. A downward trend in absolute numbers appears to be entrenched as external forces reshape the type and quantity of labour required to underpin a productive, competitive and sustainable Australian agriculture industry.
ABARES 2018 surveys provide an-depth profile of labour demand, recruitment difficulties and future challenges farmers face. The surveys covered broadacre, dairy and vegetable industries across all states, together with irrigated cotton and fruit and nut farms in the southern Murray Darling Basin. In aggregate these industries account for 74% of total Australian agriculture sector employment.
This snapshot provides key information and statistics on Australia’s agricultural workforce. We cover where workers live, what sub-industries and occupations they work in, and the mobility educational attainment of the workforce.
ABARES survey results show the dairy industry’s labour force needs and challenges differ compared to other agriculture industries.
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
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.
Insights into vegetable, horticulture and cotton farmers’ use of labour, recent recruitment experiences and expected future labour requirements.
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.
For older research, please search “Labour” and/or “agricultural workforce” in our research library.