Media release

Government’s Fiddling With Immigration Doesn’t Help Rural NZ

July 27, 2017
Calls from a united primary sector for the government’s latest round of immigration changes to address significant labour shortages in rural areas have obviously fallen on deaf ears.
The entire sector, and in particular the dairy industry, called for the government’s proposal to be amended to provide a framework for employers to attract and retain quality, motivated highly capable migrant employees and to help them develop their skills in the industry.
Unfortunately, none of the changes proposed in the document released today will do that.
"Although we acknowledge that there is a commitment to continue to work with the industry to address deficiencies in the current system that specifically impact the primary sector," Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis says.
The changes restrict the vast majority of migrant dairy farm workers to a maximum of three consecutive one year visas (maximum three years) before an enforced stand-down where they must leave NZ for 12 months.
"Given the depth of labour shortages in rural areas this will only force out migrants who have been invested in, trained and integrated into the farm and community, to be replaced by another migrant who is new to New Zealand.
"There will also be restrictions applied to bringing partners or children. This will reduce the competitiveness of New Zealand as a destination for motivated and qualified dairy farm workers, and take the heart out of rural communities relying on the families of migrants to provide critical mass to schools, social groups and community organisations.
"We are disappointed that the Government failed to address our concerns in these proposals.
"We can only hope that if we continue to try to work constructively with the Government during phase two of the changes, some of our concerns including the immediate future of great people working here in New Zealand now, can be addressed," Chris says.
For more information contact: 
Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers Immigration spokesperson, 027 289 8942