DairyNZ warmly welcomes a government announcement that means some skilled migrant dairy farm employees will be able to return to New Zealand from overseas.
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NZ’s dairy sector currently has about 4000 migrants on work visas and another 1500 on resident visas.

“This is a real breakthrough for migrants who meet the criteria and gives their farm employers certainty to plan for the future,” said DairyNZ chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.

“We thank the government for listening to the sector’s calls for these highly skilled people to return. They contribute to the dairy sector’s success, are invaluable for their experience and skills, and are important for training incoming Kiwi staff.”

The visa holders and their families will follow all border control processes and go into quarantine or managed isolation, before re-joining their communities here.

DairyNZ has been working with the Government since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. The Government did provide a six-month extension on the employer-assisted temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020, which was also very welcome news for dairy farmers.

Dr Mackle strongly advised migrants and their employers to understand the rules and confirm if they meet the exemption criteria before submitting applications. “We don’t want to see additional stress, costs and disappointment for this group of patient people,” said Dr Mackle.

While it is great news that some migrants can come home, DairyNZ acknowledges some migrants and their employers will not meet the criteria. “I am sure they will be disappointed and we thank them for the contribution they have made to our dairy sector.”

Jobs continue to remain in the dairy sector and the GoDairy campaign launched by DairyNZ aims to attract Kiwis whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19. But the challenge is it can’t happen with a flick of the switch.

The sector needs a mixture of skills on farm, both experienced people and new recruits. It will take several years to build the knowledge of new Kiwi farm staff to take over the migrant workforce.

DairyNZ encourages interested people to find out more about the opportunities available at godairy.co.nz

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic caused milk prices to plummet…

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