Sighs of relief all round at Federated Farmers after the announcement of a clear and achievable residency process for international workers and their families.
“I am delighted. This gives 9000 of the workers who have stayed on to help run our farms some certainty about their future,” Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
“And they deserve it. They’ve supported us through exceptionally difficult times on farm and we are going to need them even more in the future.
“There will be big smiles in cowsheds and tractors across the country after this announcement.”
For 18 months Federated Farmers has pulled every lever it could to communicate to government the importance of these people in rural communities and rural business.
Since the first COVID-19 lockdown Federated Farmers has worked continuously to signal to the government the importance of our rural international workforce to keep the primary industries running.
Select Committee submissions, farmer surveys, letter writing campaigns, virtual meetings, border exception applications, and numerous correspondence have all signalled that it is essential to retain our skilled international farm workers.
Although their temporary work visas have been continually renewed, many migrant workers have been eyeing up opportunities overseas which had a greater chance of residency.
Feds and DairyNZ just wrote another joint letter to Minister Faafoi and Minister O’Connor asking for certainty for the New Zealand-based international workforce.
“We have been losing people to Australia and Canada. New Zealand farm employers know what a threat these countries and their initiatives are to retaining our experienced agricultural workforce.”
The announced residency initiative is good news for those workers already on New Zealand shores but there remains a significant shortfall of agricultural workers in many regions.
The industry will continue to work towards attracting and retaining good New Zealand workers but Federated Farmers believes continued access to an international workforce will remain critical for the foreseeable future.