Backpackers have returned to Australia in force and farmers are happy with the boost to the rural workforce.  

It’s come as a relief for Tasmanian raspberry farmer Richard Clark, who has seen a cool, wet spring delay his berry harvest this season.

“It’s a very condensed season, so there are a lot of berries in a very short amount of time, requiring a lot of people,” he said.

The number of working holiday visa holders has started to build since Australia reopened its international borders in December 2021, helping fill the estimated 172,000 worker shortfall in the food supply chain.

A total of 135,000 Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa holders arrived in Australia in 2022, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

Since early December, 24,000 WHM visas have been granted, with many visa holders yet to arrive.

Backpackers picking raspberries.
Backpackers picking raspberries at Westerway in the Derwent Valley.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

“As of December 30, 2022, there are nearly 73,900 WHM visa holders offshore who can travel to Australia,” a department spokesperson said.

“The median processing times for WHM visas is currently less than one day.”

Mr Clark said international travellers complemented the local workforce.

“Without that surge of backpackers in the peak, critical period, fruit goes on the ground,” he said.

A farmer wearing a broad brimmed hat standing in front of bushes.
Raspberry farmer Richard Clark is relieved that international backpackers have returned.(ABC News: Maren Preuss)

That was almost the case during the pandemic, when the farm managed harvests without backpackers — but only just.

“It was

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