More overseas workers for NZ dairy farmers!

Some good news for staff-strapped dairy farmers! The Government has approved border class exceptions for an additional 200 dairy workers to enter New Zealand.

At the same time 50 vets have also been allowed in.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says it is clear from conversations with the dairy and veterinarian sectors that they are facing workforce pressures.

“These border exceptions will go a long way towards relieving those pressures,” O’Connor said.

The exceptions will allow up to 150 dairy farm workers in management roles on farms, up to 50 workers in dairy assistant roles, and up to 50 general practice vets to enter New Zealand, along with their partners and dependent children.

O’Connor says what the Government has also made clear to sector leaders is that we need to ensure there is a strong incentive for New Zealanders to take up entry-level roles and develop careers in dairying.

“The Government and food and fibres sector have been working hard to mitigate worker shortages by training and upskilling New Zealanders, but we know that takes time. This announcement recognises the immediate need for additional expertise to come through our borders.

“Dairy managers and vets have specialist skills developed over many years, which we can’t replicate overnight.

“With the new dairy season kicking off last week, migrant dairy farm workers will supplement the domestic workforce and provide critical support.”

Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are extremely relieved by the Government announcement.

Federated Farmer immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says now the job of working through the details with DairyNZ, Immigration NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries will begin, to see how these 200 spaces can be fairly allocated across the country.

 Since the closure of the border, farmers have been crying out for dairy farm staff, with almost 50 percent of farmers surveyed reporting vacancies on farms.

 “I have taken many, many calls from people who are struggling to cope without their farm managers and skilled staff. It has been a desperate time for many dairy farming families,” says Chris.

Tim Mackie of Dairy NZ
Tim Mackie — DNZ

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said this is a step in the right direction.

“This is positive news for farmers who will be encouraged that government have heard our concerns and responded,” said Dr Mackle.

“We will be ensuring farmers understand the detail of the class exception to be able to make an informed decision.”