Dairy New Zealand is urging the industry to improve its record as an employer, so it can attract the skilled workforce it needs.
The Council of Trade Unions says conditions for dairy farm workers are all too often poor and wages low.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's labour inspectors have been visiting dairy farms since August last year to ensure they are complying with minimum employment rights, after three farms in Southland were found to have underpaid their workers.
Dairy New Zealand spokesperson Mark Paine says the industry needs 1000 graduates a year to fill on-farm roles, as well as skilled technical and science roles.
He said dairy farming will only attract such workers if the industry builds a good reputation as an employer.