The Federal government has confirmed a new agriculture visa for farm, meat, fisheries and forestry workers that may provide a pathway to permanent residency or regional settlement in Australia.

The new visa will allow foreigners to work on Australian farms, will be in place from late next month, however details on who and how many people can apply have not been confirmed.

A statement signed by key government ministers said, "The Australian Agriculture visa will be open to applicants from a range of countries negotiated through bilateral agreements. Full conditions will be developed and implemented over the next three years as the visa is operationalised."

Agriculture minister, Mr Littleproud said, "This is a structural change to the agricultural workforce. It gives our farmers the confidence to plant a crop and know that they'll be able to get it into the supply chain." He also said the new visa would be complementary to existing labour schemes for Pacific Island workers who won't be adversely affected by the new visa.

The decision to create a new ag visa appears to have been linked to political machinations between the Liberal and National parties, with the Nationals' support for the visa contingent on support of the recent free trade agreement reached with the United Kingdom. The new ag visa had been opposed by some Liberals and its confirmation is considered a major victory for the Nationals and farmers.

The introduction of the new visa has dismayed some farm workers who arrived in Australia on working holidaymaker visas who have already spent years working on farms. Many now feel they have been left out of pathways to permanent residency in Australia.

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