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Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration 2013

15/04/2013 9:03:00 a.m. 

Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Survey 2013, shows that remuneration levels for most pastoral farm positions have continued to increase.  The average farm worker is now earning $5,500 more than the New Zealand average annual wage and salary.

“I need to point out our survey was in the field in late 2012 and before the impact of the 2012/13 drought really hit home,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson.

“The drought will undoubtedly have a drag effect on farm wage growth and prospects.  We need to also point out that marked commodity price pressures have become apparent in 2013 in the meat and fibre sectors particularly.  

“That said, the 2013 survey covers more than 3,900 positions involving the input of 1,194 farm employers.  That makes it the most comprehensive of its type and we sincerely thank Rabobank, our research provider Ipsos and farm employers for helping us with it.

“Federated Farmers considers that it has an important role to develop and attract quality people into agriculture. This survey is intended to assist employers and employees, both current and potential, to better understand what agriculture has to offer.

“It is also important to point out that the primary industries made up of pastoral agriculture, horticulture, forestry and fisheries employ over 146,000 New Zealanders.  Misconceptions about pastoral agriculture must be challenged and this survey is a useful tool doing just that.

“Agriculture is vast and includes on-farm work, value-added processing right through to scientific research and international business.

“Of course what we are talking about with our 2013 survey are the financial rewards for farm workers.  Our 2013 survey showed our workers earned an average salary of $46,246. 

“This actually increases to $49,159 when the value of non-wage benefits is taken into account.

“Farming is incredibly wage competitive because the national average wage for people in paid employment was $40,716[i] in the June 2012 quarter. When you consider living costs in many rural areas tend to be lower than in urban areas it is an eye-opener.

“Yet despite relatively high unemployment nationally, farmers are finding it difficult to recruit skilled and motivated staff.  There is a gulf between talk in the media about unemployment and the experiences of farm employers. 

“We are hopeful reforms to the benefit system may incentivise Kiwis with the right attitude to look wider and consider a farming career.

“Farm employers know they need to strike the right balance between containing wage growth and attracting high quality skilled workers to not only consider farm employment but to stay.  The need for career development is also important.

“We are seeing a growing professionalism in rural employment relationships.  This is paying dividends as evidenced by StatisticsNZ’s recent Labour Productivity statistics.  These show labour productivity within agriculture has increased 3.4 percent each year.

"Labour inputs showed little change whereas output has surged, meaning agriculture is driving New Zealand’s labour productivity growth. 

“Federated Farmers itself provides tools and support to farm employers as a benefit of membership.  This survey is exclusively free to members of Federated Farmers and will be available online or via 0800 FARMING (0800 327 646).

“Federated Farmers recommends that each year employers include a remuneration review as part of their employees’ performance review process. This does not guarantee that a change of remuneration will result, but that it will, in good faith, be discussed.

“When considering the remuneration package, the focus should be on establishing a level of remuneration appropriate for the role and responsibility. Once that is established adjustments can be made for other factors, like competencies and performance.

“We would further encourage people and career advisors to look into agriculture as well as employment sites like TradeMe, Seek and Federated Farmers own, http://www.ruraljobs.co.nz/,” Mrs Milne concluded.

For more information:

Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Employment Spokesperson, 03 738 0189, 0274 244 546

Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Survey 2013 Highlights


Rabobank New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 110 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative operates in 47 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 10 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1600 offices and branches. Rabobank New Zealand is one of the country's leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the New Zealand food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 32 branches throughout New Zealand.


Federated Farmers’ origins date back to 1899 and since that time it has been the strong advocate for New Zealand farmers, acting on their behalf as well as providing information that supports sustainable and profitable farming. Farmers rely on sound qualified information and this survey provides remuneration data for a very important asset; the farm employees who help run the farming operation.


The Federated Farmers/Rabobank Farm Employee Remuneration Report 2013 is a free member benefit to members of the Federation.  It can be downloaded from www.fedfarm.org.nz/membership/ from Monday 15 April or obtained by calling 0800 327 646 (0800 FARMING).  Non-members can purchase the report from http://shop.fedfarm.org.nz/.


Mean TPV*

% Change

Dairy Assistant



Dairy Assistant Herd Manager



Dairy Herd Manager



Dairy Farm Manager



Dairy Operations Manager



Sheep & Beef General Hand



Sheep & Beef Shepherd



Sheep & Beef Head Shepherd



Sheep & Beef Stock Manager



Sheep & Beef Farm Manager



Grains (Arable) Tractor/Machinery Driver



Grains (Arable) Senior Tractor/Machinery Driver



Grains (Arable) Farm Manager



*An employee’s salary plus any other benefits equals their total package value.

As well as remuneration, some other interesting findings from the 2013 survey include:

  • Over one third of employees (36.9 percent) have been employed for less than one year. Short lengths of employment are particularly evident in the more junior positions.
  • The vast majority of employees (86.5 percent) are New Zealand citizens, with only 7.0 percent employed on a working holiday visa or a temporary work permit. The proportion of migrant labour is higher for the dairying positions.
  • 83.5 percent of permanent employees have written contracts, an increase on the 2012 survey’s 75.4 percent.
  • Accommodation is provided to 78.2 percent of employees, an increase on the 2012 survey’s 75.1 percent.
  • 29.0 percent of employees are members of KiwiSaver, although for permanent employees, the percentage rises to 41 percent. Nevertheless, this is a lower rate of take-up compared to the economy as a whole (67 percent).
  • Most employers (80.2 percent) are very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their employees’ performance.
  • 32.9 percent of employers reported it as being ‘not at all easy’ or ‘not very easy’ to find employees, compared to 34.5 percent who reported as being ‘very easy’ or ‘extremely easy’. The dairy positions were generally perceived as harder to fill.


This media release contains only an overview of results.  The full report (free to members but can be purchased), contains more detail on each position, including data on means, medians, quartiles, and TPV by size of farm and region. Quartiles are a particularly useful way to work out how to pay new or experienced employees where paying the mean (i.e. the average) would not be appropriate. The report also includes, for each position, demographic information on employees as well as employer perceptions about satisfaction with employees and the ease of finding employees.

Federated Farmers Remuneration was carried out in compliance with this International Standard, ISO20252.  A similar approach to previous years was used to collect the data, whereby all members of Federated Farmers were invited to participate in the survey either via an online invitation to their email or by sending a hard copy survey to their postal address.

The research target group for this project were all Federated Farmers members who have employees. In order to reach this group, invitations to participate were sent to all Federated Farmers members. A total of 1,194 completed surveys were included in the data set; this represented 3,952 different employees. The fieldwork was conducted between 15th October and 20th November 2012. Some paper surveys were received after this date, but have not been included in the analysis.

The overall response rate was 20 percent (this is based on anyone who started the survey online or returned the paper questionnaire). Incidence rate is 48 percent (this is the percentage of those who qualified for (i.e. had staff members) and completed the survey out of those who responded).

[1] StatisticsNZ New Zealand Income Survey (June 2012 quarter): Income from wages and salaries was $40,716 (or $783 per week).  Average income for all people was $37,492 (or $721 per week).

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