Wimmera shearers have said the industry is under strain as it faces a critical shortage in workers from New Zealand as a result of the COVID pandemic and an increase in New Zealand's shearing award rate.
Earlier this year, the award rate for New Zealand's shearing industry was increased to recruit and retain shearers in the country.
Each year, Australia relies on around 500 New Zealand contractors who help shear between five and seven million sheep.
Natimuk shearer Evo Hennessey has personally noticed the strain placed on Victoria's wool industry due to a lack of New Zealand workers.
Mr Hennessey said there had been an increase in the workload shearers from this time last year.
"You work from September to Christmas five days a week shearing, and you might do the odd Saturday," he said.
"It's entirely up to your personal preference, but if you wanted to work seven days a week you could because farmers are just screaming out for shearers to get their sheep shorn."
Mr Hennessey is part of a Facebook group called 'Shearing World Wide' and said the page has attracted many Australian contractors asking for workers.
"I've been glancing through it in the last month and I've never seen so many posts that say 'looking for a shearer, need to start ASAP'. Contractors just can't find any shearers."
In October this year, many of the first international flights to Melbourne were boarded by New Zealand shearers, who had come over for the shearing season.
The arrivals were a relief for sheds that had to deal with a massive shortage of labour due to the COVID pandemic.
However, Mr Hennessey believes the increase of New Zealand shearing award rates will have a longer-lasting impact on the shearing workforce than COVID travel restrictions.
"Let's say that coronavirus never happened. Australia would still be struggling to find shearers. Maybe not as bad, but still struggling because a lot of them would have not come back over."
The COVID pandemic has affected the agriculture industry across the board.
Worker shortages in the horticulture industry prompted National MP's to sign a letter to Premier Daniel Andrews, asking him to fast - track the visa process for Pacific Island workers to Australia for the harvest season. Member for Mallee Anne Webster was one of the MP's who signed the letter.
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