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Backpacker uncertainty hurting Queensland farms

AAP logoAAP 25/11/2016 David Sigston

As uncertainty over the backpacker tax continues, Queensland fruit farmers are struggling to get by with a huge drop-off in staff from years gone by.

Pinata Farms, a third generation company with fruit farms throughout Australia, were once turning away backpackers every day but are now only scraping by due to a reduced mango crop.

"In years gone by we'll have as many as 340 backpackers working with us around our farms and at the moment it's down to about 200," Pinata Farms managing director Gavin Scurr told AAP on Friday.

He said the uncertainty over the backpacker tax is a huge concern for farmers all around Queensland and felt it was high time for major parties to stop playing politics.

"They're holding farmers for ransom while they just try and get some personal point-scoring," he said.

Federal parliament remains locked in a political stalemate over the tax and a failure to reach an agreement by the end of next week will lead to a tax rate of 32.5 per cent.

But Mr Scurr, based in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, said that was unsustainable and backpackers would simply travel to other countries.

"There's already been a significant drop in numbers coming through the farms with all the uncertainty and, speaking to the backpackers, they'll end up going to New Zealand or Canada for work," he said.

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