The final details of the campaign set up by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ are being worked through before it gets under way.
The organisations hope to get Government funding for the initiative from its $100 million redeployment fund it announced in March.
Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis wants it launched as soon as possible to give farmers enough time to recruit and train new staff in time for the start of calving on North Island farms in July.
“We need to get things in place as soon as possible because Mother Nature doesn’t wait for anyone.
“We need to get staff on farm early enough to show them the boundaries, show them how the cow shed works, the motorbikes and give them a basic understanding.
“With that pressure on and health and safety it’s a massive concern for all of us. We’re not going to get the migrants in and we are going to be very reliant on NZ people changing jobs.”
Hiring these people is going to be a major focus for all farmers. They will require retraining by experienced staff members and that takes time.
It is based on the assumption the Government will move out of the level four restrictions later this month.
But cows will calve regardless and will need human help, he said.
“It’s not like other industries where you can stop and start.”
Another challenge getting staff will be the isolation of many dairy farms.
Kiwifruit orchards have been relatively successful in finding staff because they are near main centres.
The pastoral industry is not going to have that instant pool and farmers have to keep what staff they have and be able to react quickly when the lockdown is lifted so they can start recruiting staff for any vacancies, he said.
As July 1 draws closer there will be a rush to find people and Lewis encourages people interested in working on a dairy farm to make themselves known on Fonterra’s Farm Source or other job sites.
It might be easier to recruit and train staff with many university students stuck in isolation on their family farms looking for extra work, he said.