Immigration proposals welcomed by farmers

DairyNZ has welcomed the government’s consultation on temporary work visas and the proposed introduction of Regional Skills Shortage Lists, saying labour shortages are a very real and serious problem for the dairy sector.

“Dairy farmers, just like any other business owners, need a stable, reliable and productive workforce,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Mackle.

“Right now, many of our migrant farm staff have to reapply for their visas each year and can’t bring their families to New Zealand or stay longer than three years. This significantly impacts our workforce and our rural communities.

“We hope this consultation will result in many of our valuable dairy employees being classed as mid-skilled rather than the current incorrect classification of low-skilled.

“Knowing that they will be able to retain their good staff will mean our farmers can be confident in investing in training and development. This means we can maintain the high skills level and productivity New Zealand’s dairy sector is known for.

“We are working to attract more Kiwi candidates in the regions where the jobs are,” says Dr Mackle. “But until we have enough people with the right training and passion for farming, who are attracted to rural regions, we will continue to need migrant staff – particularly in Canterbury and Southland where there is a greater shortage.

“Regional Skills Shortage Lists would be a positive step during this transition as we attract more Kiwis into the sector.

“We have initiatives like the Primary Industries Capability Alliance, which promote careers in the primary sector and reach more than 60 percent of secondary schools and 38,000 students. But we want more of these students to choose the primary sector, so we are feeding the future employment needs of our country’s primary sector.”

DairyNZ, with Federated Farmers and Dairy Women’s Network, is spearheading the Workplace Action Plan initiative to attract and retain quality workers for the dairy sector. More information is available at