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Immigration Lawyers Melbourne

Dairy Industry Labour Agreements: Sponsoring Skilled Employees to work in Australia

Dairy Industry Labour Agreements: Sponsoring Skilled Employees to work in Australia

July 2021

Spotlight: Dairy Industry Labour Agreement

The Dairy Industry Labour Agreement is a work agreement between approved dairy farmers and the Department of Home Affairs, allowing dairy farm employers to recruit an agreed number of skilled workers in light of skills shortages suffered by the Dairy Industry in Australia.

Once executed, the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement will be valid for a period of five (5) years, during which the approved dairy farm employer can sponsor a specified number of overseas workers for temporary and/or permanent visas, in accordance with the nomination ceiling (“ceiling numbers”) determined in the Agreement. An application to vary these ceiling numbers can be made to the Department of Home Affairs where there is a business case which supports this.

What visas can you apply for under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement?

Under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement, approved dairy farmers are able to sponsor skilled overseas workers for a Temporary Skill Shortage (Subclass 482) visa for up to four (4) years and/or a Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (Subclass 494) visa for five (5) years.

Does the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement provide a pathway to permanent residence?

Subclass 482 visa holders who work for their sponsoring employer for a minimum period of three (3) years, whilst holding a Subclass 482 visa, will then be able to transition to permanent residency via the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) visa, as long as their sponsoring employer nominates them for this. Similarly, Subclass 494 visa holders are able to transition to the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) (Subclass 191) visa after having worked and lived in a designated regional area and met the specified income threshold for at least three (3) years whilst holding a Subclass 494 visa, and no nomination is required for a Subclass 191 visa application*.

*The Subclass 191 visa will only come into effect in or around November 2022, and the specific regulatory and legislative requirements for this particular visa subclass are therefore not yet available.

What occupations are there available under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement?

There is only one (1) occupation available under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement, namely the occupation of ‘senior dairy cattle farm worker’.

The duties and responsibilities under this occupation include the following tasks:

·         plan all aspects of milk production processes including management and coordination of milking shed routines;

·         coordinate and implement reproductive programs, including artificial insemination and herd fertility management, detection of oestrous and pregnancy;

·         assist in controlled breeding experiments to develop improved livestock strains;

·         implement calving procedures, including the ability to physically conduct unsupervised internal assessments to minimise the incidence of still births or injuries to cow or calf;

·         plan and manage pastures and crops for livestock production and develop livestock feeding plans;

·         analyse produce to set and maintain standards of quality;

·         supervise animal health programs, handle sick or injured animals and maintain an optimal environment for the wellbeing of livestock consistent with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Cattle;

·         supervise work routines and staff performance of less experienced employees such as an assistant farmhand;

·         implement and monitor quality assurance procedures, ensuring compliance and that all relevant documentation is kept current;

·         operate milking plant and equipment in a safe manner, undertake multiple functions including reading and recording instrument information e.g. milk vat temperatures and cow numbers and matching cow ID to calves to produce a quality milk outcome;

·         operate a dairy recycling system;

·         calf feeding, including tubing colostrum;

·         assisting with and/or performing irrigation works;

·         inspect livestock to gauge the effectiveness of feed formulae;

·         transport, handle and store chemicals; prepare and apply chemicals;

·         operate farm and dairy shed-related vehicles, plant and equipment;

·         identify and report equipment not operating normally; maintenance of plant and machinery;

·         where appropriately qualified, perform maintenance works on sheds, fixtures and fittings, fences and surrounds and install new or replacement equipment or fittings;

·         transport stock, feed and equipment, if appropriately licensed;

·         maintain records to ensure accurate information for stock and inventory control;

·         ensure food safety regulatory requirements are met;

·         contribute to and implement Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) requirements;

·         operate computer equipment and software packages requiring set-up and basic function operation;

·         coordinate the response to emergencies for both occupational health and safety emergencies and animal welfare emergencies;

·         participate in enterprise/industry training sessions and workshops as required.

What qualifications and work experience do I need to be nominated as a senior dairy cattle farm worker?

Overseas workers must have the following qualifications and/or work experience, in order to be considered as having the skills, qualifications and employment background necessary to perform the senior dairy cattle farm worker occupation:

(a)    at least an AQF certificate III (or equivalent) and at least three (3) years recent and relevant work experience; or

(b)   at least five (5) years of recent and relevant work experience.

Are there any concessions available in relation to salary requirements, English language requirements and/or age requirements?

Certain Industry Labour Agreements provide a number of concessions which make it easier for an approved employer to sponsor skilled overseas workers.

However, there are no salary concessions available under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement. This means that nominees must be paid the Australian Market Salary Rate for the nominated occupation, and their proposed salary must also meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), which is currently $53,900.00 AUD. Furthermore, if there is another Australian worker performing equivalent work at the same workplace, who receives a higher annual salary, the sponsoring employer will have to pay the overseas worker a “top-up”, over an annual period.

There are also no English language concessions available to nominees; Subclass 482 and Subclass 494 visa applicants will need to meet the English language requirements under the short-term stream of the Subclass 482 visa programme, and Subclass 186 visa applicants will need to provide evidence of competent English to be eligible for the grant of a permanent Subclass 186 visa.

Furthermore, there are no age concessions available to nominees under the Dairy Industry Labour Agreement. Under the standard employer sponsored visa programs, there is no age requirement for the Subclass 482 visa programme, but only persons under the age of 45 are able to apply for a Subclass 186 visa. Additionally, only persons under the age of 45 are able to apply for a Subclass 494 visa.

What else should I be aware of?

The processing and execution of Labour Agreement request can often be a lengthy  and complicated process. As such, a Labour Agreement request and the associated nomination and visa applications should be lodged in a timely and complete manner, so as to ensure that there are no concerns about a particular nominee missing out on transitioning to permanent residence due to the relevant age requirements and/or processing delays caused by poorly documented applications.

To speak with an experienced, specialist immigration lawyer regarding your Australian visa application or options, please contact us on +61 3 9329 8744 or by email at

Phone Erskine Rodan & Associates
+61 3 9329 8744
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