Federated Farmers Applauds Visa Flexibility Changes
The omens are good that the government will be pragmatic on visa flexibility for migrant workers needed to accelerate economic recovery, Federated Farmers says.
"In the face of the pandemic the Coalition government has proved itself nimble and sensible on a number of fronts that have allowed the primary sector to get on with producing high quality food and earning export revenue," Feds employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
"The fact it is temporarily amending immigration law to support a number of visa changes gives us hope our concerns about workforce gaps - particularly in the dairy sector - will be listened to."
Last month Federated Farmers and DairyNZ wrote to Ministers highlighting a looming staffing crunch, with the busy calving season kicking in from July 1. It is estimated that even if all migrant workers currently in New Zealand were retained - and that would require further visa extensions - there could still be a shortfall of between 1000-2000 employees for the coming dairy season.
The sector is responding in a number of ways to recruit more New Zealanders into farm work, including people who have lost their jobs in tourism and other industries.
"But on some farms remote from towns there will always be a need for migrant workers, and right now we can’t afford to lose experienced migrants already working on farms. Those workers with experience are vital to get us through the busiest part of the dairying calendar, including to help with training newcomers," Lewis says.
"We’re pleased to see that the bill to be introduced to Parliament next week will give the government powers to extend expiry dates of visas for certain people and impose, vary or cancel conditions relating to temporary-entry visa holders.
"Federated Farmers is looking forward to working with the government and Immigration NZ to find migrant workforce solutions while we continue to make progress recruiting and training more New Zealanders for a satisfying career in agriculture."