DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir says the six month extension is excellent news for farmers and the estimated 3000 dairy farm employees whose temporary visas are due to expire.
“The dairy sector, farm employers and our farm employees on temporary visas have been calling on the government to provide a solution. We are pleased they have listened,” said Ms Muir.
“We are about to go into the busiest time of the farming year with calving and urgently sought certainty that farmers would be able to keep their existing staff.”
Federated Farmers and DairyNZ have repeatedly highlighted to government the plight of migrant workers needed by the dairy sector, both those already working in the country and those stuck overseas.
“We need these people. They are key to our daily business on-farm,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
DairyNZ has a GoDairy campaign underway to attract and train Kiwis for the 1000 additional jobs currently up for grabs on dairy farms.
“In the medium to long-term we expect to see dairy’s reliance on migrants decrease but it will take time – our migrants have skills we can’t replace quickly, they are highly valued and they can help train Kiwis,” said Ms Muir.
Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway today announced the government is shifting a stand down period that applies to some migrants by six months to February 2021.
Migrant workers who were subject to the 12-month stand-down period and were going to have to leave New Zealand this year, will now be able to stay for the duration of the extension.