Government’s approval of dairy sector support welcomed but planning for the future must continue.
The Government’s approval of 200 MIQ beds for dairy workers has been met with relief by immigration and recruitment company, The Regions, but managing director, Ben De’Ath says this is just the beginning of a decade long conversation, which needs to see future Immigration policy better tailored to meet the nations needs.
De’Ath, whose company The Regions Immigration Law and Recruitment, petitioned the government to allocate MIQ beds to migrant workers who could provide much needed staffing support for farmers under pressure for the impending calving season, told TVNZ Breakfast this morning, the Minister of Agriculture’s change of heart is welcomed.
“Thank you Damien O’Connor. It is great to have this acknowledgement, but it has to be a conversation that continues to happen for the next five-to-10 years,” De’Ath said.
De’Ath, who voiced concern over the mis-understanding of the drivers for staffing shortages in our rural communities states the issue has reached crisis point, also welcomed Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s announcement of an extension to current working holiday and supplementary seasonal employment visas.
“There are currently 10,000 people on these visas which are set to expire between June 21 and December,” De’Ath said. “Anyone with one of these visas, come and see us! The dairy sector has jobs for you, houses for you and your family, we pay median wage and you get to work in some of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.”
De’Ath and the team at The Regions, who have placed more than 2,000 work visa holders on farms across New Zealand in the past decade, says New Zealand’s record unemployment rate combined with the country’s closed borders as a result of COVID, was putting the our primary industries & communities futures at significant risk.
“We are concerned about our farmers’ mental health and physical wellbeing, about animal welfare, and about the potential for serious health and safety risks,” De’Ath says. “The Minister has clearly heard, and responded to our concerns, and for that we thank him. Let’s keep the conversation going… for the sake of our farmers, our animals and for the betterment of New Zealand.”