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Dairy NZ Timeline

This timeline outlines Dairy NZ’s participation as lead implementation agency for Dairy Sector Border Class Exemption

The Dairy Industry’s border quota is not going well, and Dairy NZ have suggested the solution is that farms pay $38 per hour to junior staff, while Dairy NZ are not willing to address how they got this so wrong, and are offering no remedies to those let down by this, we are calling for action & accountability from the Dairy NZ board.


10 June 2021: Hon Damien O’Conner Minister of Agriculture releases 200 place dairy sector quota following a number of industry stakeholders lobbying in relation to the dire shortages & pressing need. Dairy NZ are appointed lead implementation agency.

Quota contents from the Minister outline 50 hourly wage roles, and 150 salaried roles.  Dairy NZ, MPI & MBIE are required to define & manage border process.

10 June 2021: Dairy NZ are introduced to two Immigration Lawyers who are not active participants in the dairy market, and it is suggested that given the tripartite involvement of MBIE and MPI, Dairy NZ Ought to form a governance board & implement a code of conduct for how the class exemption will be defined and managed.

Dairy NZ ignore this suggestion.

July 7 2021, Formal concerns are raised with Dairy NZ regarding delays in application commencement, due to process not being defined or published.

July 8 2021, Application process is released by Dairy NZ, The 150 salaried roles are published within Dairy NZ’s (now deleted) set of guidelines that place no hourly rate visibility on the 150 salaried role’s.

Opinion: The omission to state & make visible hourly rates within the class exemption illustrates a poor to non existent understanding of the Immigration framework Dairy NZ were administering.  Hence the governance & expertise suggestions.

The one month timeline to define process which were later rescinded and suggested to be a “misunderstanding” ought to have been a process which took no more than 5 working days, had the appropriate expertise & experienced professionals been involved.

August 23 2021, Dairy NZ CEO Tim Mackle is formally made aware of market concerns as to resource allocation managing the Class Exemption and its delays to this point.

Opinion: Dairy NZ senior management response is defensive & dismissive, not willing to be accountable for delays and errors, and illustrates a belief they are above review.  Dairy NZ Senior Management, responded with bemusing correspondence questioning whether providing farmers information / not providing misinformation, and advocating in farmers interests does not relate , and is not required in relation to current handling of border class exemption.

Please refer to the below Legislation which defines Dairy NZ existence:

(c) providing information to dairy farmers:

(d) promoting, and advocating on behalf of, the dairy industry:

August 31 2021, Dairy NZ Issue the following statement:

Sept 10 2021, Dairy NZ issues the following statement:

Opinion: INZ’s kneejerk reaction is understandable & justified, MBIE & Immigration NZ are required to have hourly rate visibility on all class exemptions, and all Visa’s for that matter.Dairy NZ’s not employing the appropriate expertise to understand the Immigration framework of the class exemption, appears to be the primary catalysts for this.

It has been suggested (we await the Official Information Act request to verify this) that Dairy NZ CEO Tim Mackle has written to departmental colleagues in recent weeks and asked “for working hours under the exemption to be variable” and for the “40 hour working cap to be removed”.

If true, this suggests Mr Mackle, still at this juncture does not understand the Immigration visa framework, his organization are required to work within.

The average hourly rate for Dairy Staff inside NZ is a touch under $28 per hour for the approx. 2,200 dairy staff The Regions Immigration Law Limited, have access to.

Opinion: The suggestion that farms pay $38 to $44 per hour for staff under the border catchment following Dairy NZ’s inability to document process & make hourly rate shows a disturbing absence of understanding the local labor market and the toxic effect it would have on the already strained labor market is scantly experienced applicants were to arrive on wages of $38 to $44 per hour.

The world does not have readily available senior & experienced staff to who justify these $38 to $44 per hour ($100k + per hour) roles

Overview: We are now just shy of 4 months removed from the lobbying that led to the approval of the class exemption.  We the industry, and levy paying farms are reliant on dutiful management of the class exemption by Dairy NZ, and we feel let down.

Call to action:

If you are aware of any other comparable conduct, actions & omissions which Dairy NZ have been involved in, in other areas of their ambit, please bring these to our attention.


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