Wednesday, 22 July 2020 09:01

No place for Tom, Dick or Harry! – Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
NZ’s dairy sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas and another 1500 on resident visas. NZ’s dairy sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas and another 1500 on resident visas.

OPINION: Migrants are a critical and valued part of dairying in New Zealand, filling skills shortages on farms when there aren’t enough local workers available.

The sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas (18% of total sector employees) and another 1500 on resident visas (mostly employees but some employers).

The NZ Government, like other governments around the world, is facing a growing unemployment queue thanks to Covid-19. They are under pressure to employ locals. 

But it isn’t as simple. All those out-of-work Queenstown baristas are hardly likely to give up and move sticks to the Waikato, don an apron and start milking cows.

Dairy farmers have been – rightly – calling on the Government to better understand their plight. They can’t get workers from overseas, while suitable Kiwis are hard to find and those migrants still working on NZ farms are facing uncertain times.

A stand-down requirement is pending for many overseas farm workers, an enforced 12-month period away from New Zealand after spending three years here working in ‘low-skilled’ farming roles. After extensive lobbying by Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ, this has been delayed until next year. However, now these low-skilled visas must be renewed every six months, putting the employee and the farmer through the expense and uncertainty of a visa renewal twice a year.

The 12-month stand-down period remains.

These migrant workers will not be returning to their country of residence waiting out their NZ work visa one year stand down. They will move on to another country where they can get work and be appreciated. We train them and pass them on to our competitors. 

Marlborough farmer Catherine Tither says this is not fair to migrants nor employers.

“It is not good business practice to train up then dismiss valuable employees; worse still to export our knowledge and skills to our competitors.”

She also points out that a misconception anyone can be trained in dairy farming in a couple of weeks. The tasks and focus on farm changes every couple of months.  As the season progresses from wintering dry cows, through calving, mating, supplement making, summer dry, and in autumn preparing the cows and the farm for the following season the focus and tasks change. 

The skill set involved is broad and varied. The standards of milk quality, animal welfare, environmental compliance and traceability are constantly evolving. Tither is on the mark when she says the industry “is not for any Tom, Dick or Harry”.

More like this

Virtual CV valuable tool

With a 12-year history of recruiting specialised operators from overseas to service the agricultural contracting industry, Hanzon Jobs typically brings in around 200 people to New Zealand each year from the UK and Ireland.

Time for action — Editorial

OPINION: It's time for some real and fast action around allowing more seasonal workers into the country to help power NZ’s all-important agricultural and horticultural sectors.

Lack of labour

New Zealand kiwifruit growers are nervous about having enough people to work in the industry during the coming months, according to grower organisation NZKGI.

Vets in short supply

Julie South, whose company VetStaff specialises in recruiting veterinarians, says there is a shortage of vets in New Zealand and that this has been compounded by Covid-19.

National

Dry cow therapy minus antibiotics

Taranaki sharemilker Shaun Eichstaedt was the first New Zealander to replace traditional antibiotic dry cow therapy (DCT) with a high-strength…

Changes are afoot

There has been a mixed response by the agriculture sector to the recently released Climate Change Commission’s 2021 draft report. 

Machinery & Products

Merlo goes greener

Obviously not wishing to get left behind by some of its competitors, Italian manufacturer Merlo is planning to add to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Oat milk sells

OPINION: Fake milk works for some. Fashionable Swedish alt-milk brand Oatly is seeking a US stock market listing that could…

Labour shortage

If you think labour shortage on New Zealand dairy farms is unique to our country, then think again.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter