Wednesday, 04 November 2020 10:21

Time for action — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
Claims that vacancies in our agricultural and horticultural can be filled by out-of-work New Zealanders is both naïve and ignorant. Claims that vacancies in our agricultural and horticultural can be filled by out-of-work New Zealanders is both naïve and ignorant.

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.

There are no more excuses for the hopeless lack of activity in this area, from both the politicians and bureaucrats.

For months we have been hearing endless reports about a lack of suitably motivated and qualified workers in numerous parts of the primary sector – including fruit pickers, shearers, tractor drivers and vets to name just a few.

The closure of NZ’s borders due to Covid-19 has only further exacerbated the problem, but it needs to be addressed and now. The head in the sand approach taken by the Government over this issue can no longer be tolerated.

Claims that vacancies in our agricultural and horticultural can be filled by out-of-work New Zealanders is both naïve and ignorant. It would have happened by now if it was realistic.

Many of these jobs require skilled, experienced workers and cannot be filled by people just coming off the street. Also, a lot of this work is seasonal, temporary and based in regional areas. It is unrealistic to expect people with families and homes in urban centres to pick up their lives and move far away to take on jobs – many of which they are totally unsuited and unqualified for – that may only last a few months.

The fact is, already many of our horticultural crops are at risk of not being harvested and processed due to the unwillingness of government to tackle the huge lack of available labour in the sector.

We keep hearing calls from apple, kiwifruit and strawberry growers that their crops are at risk of rotting and going to waste instead of being picked, packed and earning valuable export income the country desperately needs.

Agricultural contractors have been warning for months about a lack of drivers meaning crucial hay and silage may not be harvested this year. A lack of shearers means that sheep may not be shorn, and serious animal welfare issues may arise.

Meanwhile, other animal health and welfare issues loom due to a lack of vets around the country.

NZ can no longer keep its doors shut to crucial key overseas workers we need to keep this country going. This does not mean the quarantine and testing measures are ignored – and all this will be paid for by the industries needing to import these workers.

How can the country keep moving if our key primary sectors are not working at 100%?

More like this

Open MIQ spaces for farm workers

Farmers want the Government to open available space in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) to bring in much-needed workers for the primary industries.

National

Lower dollar firms outlook

Dairy Milk flow strength is a result of welcome rainfall in the middle of March, in combination with weak production…

China dominates meat exports

The country's red meat sector exports continued to hold up during February reaching $906.7 million, analysis from the Meat Industry…

Machinery & Products

Kubota's new autumn offerings

Kubota, which is gaining traction in the agricultural sector with an ever-broadening portfolio, has announced some additions for autumn.

Save money and moisture!

With farmers and contractors looking to reduce crop establishment costs, the arrival of increasingly accurate GPS and a range of…

SIAFD wins punters' plaudits

After celebrating its 70th year last month, it looks like the South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) has hit its…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Green washing!

Your old mate is not surprised to learn that Hollywood director James Cameron's big claims to convert his Wairarapa properties…

20 pieces of silver?

A mate of the Hound reckons he's not surprised by the recent announcement the Government is 'partnering' with Lincoln-based company…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter