Agriculture industry engagement

Industry Engagement Team

Scope of work

A central point of contact for industry members including agriculture, fisheries and forestry stakeholders. The team works with other Commonwealth agencies and state governments to ensure industry perspectives inform decisions.


You can contact the team on:

Helpful contacts

If your issue relates to Requests for permits, export legislation or biosecurity, please contact the following:

Export Documentation System (EXDOC) Help Desk:

  • Dairy, fish, grain, horticulture and eggs Requests for Permits please call (02) 6272 4700
  • Meat, inedible meat products, wool, skins and hides RFPs please call (02) 6272 4800

New Export Legislation:

  • 1800 502 437 or (61 2) 6272 4209 (from outside Australia)

Biosecurity Help Desk:

  • Exotic Plant Pest Hotline: 1800 084 881 (plant pests and diseases, weeds and bees).
  • Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline: 1800 675 888 (sick livestock, poultry and aquatic animals).
  • See. Secure. Report. hotline on 1800 798 636

General Enquiry:

  • 1800 900 090 or (61 3) 8318 6700 (outside Australia)
  • Switchboard: (61 2) 6272 3933

Essential services

Emerging issues

The team is working closely with the agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and relevant jurisdictions to identify and progress key issues related to COVID measures that may impact industries.


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way we live and work.

Our agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries are essential to Australia’s recovery, economic prosperity and food security.

We continue to work closely with industry, other governments and the community through the Industry Engagement Team to ensure these industries stay strong.

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State and territory border restrictions

States and territories have some border measures to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

They know the importance of maintaining agriculture, food and fibre supply chains and moving goods around Australia. Services that support agriculture may need to seek exemption from border restrictions.

Each state and territory have their own entry requirements that change intermittently depending on COVID-19 case numbers and other factors. Make sure you understand exceptions for industry. Go to Local advice for information on border restrictions.

Agriculture workforce

Our ministers have been working on ways to meet the ongoing needs for the agriculture workforce. 

Further information is available at Agricultural Workforce.

Agriculture Visa

The Australian Government has announced the Agricultural Worker Visa which will provide a long-term, reliable workforce for critical industries while solving one of regional Australia’s key challenges. Regulations to enable the creation of the visa will be in place by the end of September 2021. The visa will be open to skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled workers from a range of partner countries and operation of the visa will depend on negotiations with partner countries.  It will include meat processing, fisheries and forestry sectors, and provide a basis for the ongoing growth of our primary industries.

Agriculture Workers Code

The National Cabinet has developed an Agriculture Workers Code to provide consistency in  approaches to cross-border movement of agriculture workers during COVID-19. Read more here.

Harvest jobs

Australian harvest work is seasonal and includes jobs such as picking fruit and vegetables, working in packing sheds and processing plants, pruning and planting.

For more information about available harvest jobs across Australia go to or call theNational Harvest Labour Information Service on 1800 062 332.

Work safety for farmers and agricultural workers

Agricultural workers often work and eat, and sometimes live, close to each other. This can increase their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Employers must take care of the health and safety of their workers and others at the workplace. This includes putting in place control measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

You must put in place these control measures, even if they result in delays to your production.

See how farmers and agricultural workers can minimise the risk from COVID-19 (Safe Work Australia).

Read the National COVID-19 Safe Workplace Principles.

Accessing critical skills

Businesses that need critical skills from overseas may help workers to seek an exemption from current border restrictions to enter Australia.

It is useful to provide detailed information, particularly about the need for the critical skill in Australia.

Further information and the request to travel form is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Workers who seek to travel before 14 days quarantine must get a separate exemption from the relevant state/territory authority.

Education and Training

The government has measures in place to support people to start work or upskill in the agriculture industry, or new areas of work.

Agricultural work involves a wide range of skills, from roles like fruit pickers, harvester operators and farm managers. You may not need a qualification to start working in agriculture.

However, there are existing and new education and training opportunities in the agriculture sector during COVID-19.

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee is driving the swift and flexible development of training packages. These are being fast-tracked to upskill people working in essential services. Read about their response.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

VET courses cover all aspects of agricultural business. There are accredited and unaccredited courses.

Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes in many states and territories offer courses free of charge (in full or during the COVID-19 pandemic).  Find out more about VET courses on the My Skills website.

Career Transition Assistance (CTA)

This program for mature-aged workers has been expanded and made available online. Find out how to access this program and if you are eligible (Department of Education, Skills and Employment).


Job Trainer is a new scheme to give Australians access to new skills by retraining and upskilling them into sectors with job opportunities, as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

This includes help for school leavers and job seekers to access short and long courses to develop new skills in growth sectors and create a pathway to more qualifications.

Read more about JobTrainer (Department of Education, Skills and Employment).


Australian agriculture exporters have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

We are working to ensure our exports can continue.

Read more about exports and COVID-19.

Assistance for airfreight

We are working closely with industry to support the export of produce. The focus is on markets where consumer demand remains strong.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) was initially a $110 million initiative.

The Australian Government has committed $781.8 million in total to keeping IFAM going until 30 September 2021.

Continued air freight flights keep our high-value, time-sensitive exports and imports flowing as we continue the economic recovery from COVID-19. The flights are also re-establishing domestic connections for producers and growers in regional and rural areas.

Exporter loans

Exporters affected by COVID-19 restrictions can now access business-saving loans. To access, you must be:

  • established and previously profitable
  • not able to gain finance from commercial sources.

Export Finance Australia will administer the new $500 million COVID-19 Export Capital Facility

Financial hardship

We know that the some of our customers may be facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you are having trouble making payments to us, let us know.

See payment options for overdue debts. (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment)


We rely on imports from around the world. Imports may be disrupted due to transport delays and functioning workplaces. This may affect production and harvests.

We have not put any extra restrictions on imports.

Find out more on imported goods and COVID-19.

Financial hardship

We know that the some of our customers may be facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you are having trouble making payments to us, let us know.

See payment options for overdue debts.

Local advice

Check more advice and requirements in your state or territory.


Updates on Australia’s response to COVID-19:

COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund Business support and advice:

Need help?

We provide support to farmers and farm business in times of hardship. Find out more at the FarmHub website. It connects Australian farmers to a range of helpful services and support.

Read about support for the commercial fishery industry.

Read more

Media releases:

Meeting summaries:

Last reviewed: 24 August 2021
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