22 Apr 2021

Trans-Tasman competition expected to increase for dairy farms seeking workers

11:15 am on 22 April 2021

New Zealand dairy farmers are being urged to make staff retention a priority, with the trans-Tasman bubble expected to make the labour market even more competitive.

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Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

Both New Zealand and Australia's primary industries are facing labour shortages, with border restrictions cutting off the normal flow of migrant workers.

A recent survey by the groups Federated Farmers and DairyNZ found almost half of the sector is understaffed, with a quarter of farmers unable to fill some roles for over six months.

The opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on Monday had resulted in some agricultural labour recruiters in Australia ramping up online advertising campaigns targeting New Zealanders - offering free airfares and good wages.

DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said while it wasn't clear what the exact impact of the trans-Tasman bubble would be, Australia's agricultural sector was under just as much pressure as the New Zealand sector.

"We're expecting to see the competition for people in those sectors to increase."

Muir said it was sending a strong message out to New Zealand dairy farmers to, if at all possible, try and retain current staff.

"This is the opportunity for everyone to put their best foot forward in terms of [offering] fabulous workplace conditions and being great bosses.

"We're confident that people are stepping up to that and that dairy farmers are always looking to improve in those areas."