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cow uncropped     Farm in the Clutha Valley in South Otago. (Photo RNZ / Ian Telfer)

In the last decade, thousands of foreign workers have been recruited to the dairy industry's hardest and dirtiest jobs.

Many South Island farms are now reliant on these migrants for milk production.

Unions say worker exploitation is rife, driving down farm wages and keeping Kiwis out of the industry.

As falling prices squeeze farmers again, Radio New Zealand's Otago reporter,  Ian Telfer, visits farms to investigate the reality of the new dairy workforce.