DairyNZ head consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch, says his first priority has been to get an accurate assessment of the extent of the damage on farms affected by the floods.
The process, which opened on 8 July, would allow 200 dairy farm workers and their families enter New Zealand following the Government’s announcement last month.
Farmers are able to make applications for 150 workers in management roles, and 50 dairy farm assistants.
DairyNZ says it has worked closely with Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to ensure the process in place is robust and fair.
The organisation’s Jenny Cameron says opening the applications provided clarity and detail for farmers facing a nationwide staff shortage.
“This will help some of the workers stuck overseas able to return to their jobs on Kiwi farms,” she says. “Or new migrants looking to join the sector, while supporting our farmers by relieving some of the workforce shortage.”
The process opened, initially for two weeks, in order to assess and understand interest from farmers, Cameron adds.
She says that if the 200 exception spaces are not filled in the initial two-week period, applications will remain open.
However, if it is oversubscribed, Cameron told Dairy News that it could signal to the Government that they should consider making more spaces available.
“We understand the urgency of our farmers wanting to get people on-farm, especially as we are entering such a busy time on the farming calendar,” she adds.
“The New Zealand border closures may mean staff are a couple of months away yet due to the application process and booking MIQ space, but this exception process does deliver for the bulk of this dairy season and provides farmers with some options to fill staff shortages.”
According to Government requirements, set by MPI and Immigration New Zealand, those wishing to bring migrant workers into New Zealand must apply to the relevant industry body – in this case, DairyNZ.
There are a total of three categories for dairy farm workers: workers needed for short-term roles, workers needed for long-term roles and workers for an approved class.
Dairy herd managers must be earning more than $79,500 and have 2-4 years’ relevant work experience, while assistant dairy farm managers or 2ICs must be earning above $92,000 with 2-4 years’ work experience.
According to MPI, the maximum visa duration granted under the border class exception is 12 months and workers must enter New Zealand before the end of April 2022.