The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the New South Wales Farmers Association are working together to raise awareness about the benefits of the skilled migration program for the agricultural sector.

Departmental officers will be conducting face to face meetings at the NSW Farmers Association stand at the annual AgQuipevent in Gunnedah next week to persuade farmers of the benefits of recruiting skilled overseas workers.

The agricultural industry if often overlooked by both prospective workers from overseas and the farming industry itself yet there is a need to recruit tens of thousands of people into the sector.

Part of the reason is that overseas workers tend to gravitate towards more glamorous jobs in cities and overlook regional areas that can suffer from a myth that they are rural and unexciting.

A departmental spokesman said some businesses in regional communities can experience difficulty finding local skilled workers and they may want to consider sponsoring suitably qualified employees from overseas.

'Our officers will be able to answer a variety of questions about the skilled migration programme, including market salary rates, health insurance, training requirements and employer obligations,' the spokesman said.

The spokesman added that it was also important for people in regional communities to understand the rules regarding hiring foreign workers, which include penalties for hiring illegal workers.

In regional areas of Australia there have also been concerns about illegal immigrants coming into the work force but the DIAC said that employers can quickly and easily check if a foreign worker has a visa with work rights through the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).

For people unable to attend Agquip, Immigration outreach officer Suzanne Gillham is ready to assist farmers who want to employ skilled workers from overseas and regional business wanting advice on skilled migration can contact Immigration outreach officer, Stephen Romano.