Federated Farmers welcome changes to immigration settings announced earlier today, but some concerns still remain that need to be addressed says Dairy Chair Richard McIntyre.
“Extending the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) from three to five years is a really positive step that will give both employers and employees a lot more certainty moving forward,” Mr McIntyre says.
“It will also smooth out the process for those farm staff who progress into herd management, which is a green list occupation and has a pathway to residency”.
Previously there has been a situation where applicants need three years’ experience to get onto the green list, but at the time of applying most had two and a half. This meant they had to go through the effort, expense, and frustration of applying for an additional visa in between.
“While it’s great to have a pathway to residency for herd management roles, we should also be providing pathways for those who enjoy their jobs as dairy assistants and are happy to continue at that level,” Mr McIntyre says.
“These employees are of real value to the dairy sector, and we need to ensure we don’t lose them to a highly competitive international market with the likes of Canada and Australia.
“We’ve got a real shortage of farm staff in this country, and we need to be making it as easy as possible for these people who have chosen to call New Zealand home to continue their farming careers here.
“We still have serious concerns about the AEWV being linked to the median wage of $29.66. Farmers simply can’t afford to pay that for entry level staff. We’re already seeing huge profit squeeze with declining milk prices and significant on farm inflation.
“Some farmers are taking on staff that they desperately need, but can’t afford, which is putting them under financial pressure. Others are simply going without staff and working excessively long hours to the detriment of their own health,” Mr McIntyre concluded.