THE nation's peak farm body has handed the government a list of 40 ways it can address the agriculture industry's labour shortage.
Ahead of the federal government's Jobs and Skills Summit, the National Farmers Federation has urged the government to seriously consider its shopping list of practical solutions.
NFF president Fiona Simson said the industry was struggling with a chronic labour shortage since before the pandemic, which exacerbated the issue, with farmers reducing planting or shifting to less labour-intensive produce as a result.
"There is no silver bullet to this crisis, we need to pull every lever available," Ms Simson said.
The 40 recommendations put forward by the NFF include plans to boost training opportunities, stamp out exploitation, speed up visa processing, and simplify the industrial relations system.
"We have real challenges and we've waited a long time for solutions," Ms Simson said.
"We're going into the Summit being honest about those problems and offering up carefully considered solutions that we think anyone could get behind."
Other recommendations include promoting the creation of on-farm accommodation through tax offsets, lifting restrictions on pensioners, and developing an app to promote seasonal jobs.
The proposals aim to address four core barriers to securing skilled and unskilled labour within the industry; the complexity of the industrial relations framework, failings in the migration system, lack of support for agricultural skills development, and community perceptions about the nature of farm work.
Ms Simson warned the summit needed short-, medium- and long- term approaches, with targets to match.
"The government must identify measurable targets to hold this event to account and make sure it's not just a talkfest," Ms Simson said.
It's estimated the food supply chain is short by at least 172,000 workers from paddock to plate.
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt is investigating ways to fill the labour shortage with domestic workers, particularly through training and upskilling.
Mr Murray has held a series of roundtable discussions with agriculture employees and workers' unions in the lead up to the summit.
"I am conscious it is a big unresolved issue - I always think the first opportunity to fill a workforce shortage in any industry is to look to locals," he said.