10 Feb 2015

Agriculture job market becoming a squeeze

9:09 am on 10 February 2015

Some farmers say it is becoming more and more difficult to find skilled and motivated workers for the farm.

That was one of the findings of the Federated Farmers, Farm Confidence Survey, carried out last month.

The survey also showed farmers' confidence was falling in response to low dairy prices and the dry weather, with many expecting a drop in income and having a bleak view of the economy and farm profitability, compared with last year.

Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston said over the past ten years, farmers had found it increasingly difficult to employ and retain good staff.

"I think that's a reflection of two things, one is the economy is ticking along quite nicely, unemployment is at a low level and that always makes it harder to recruit, and I think the whole campaigns about dirty dairying and that negative aspect that environmental campaigners have been pushing has actually reduced the enthusiasm, if you like, for getting skilled workers.

"But I would say that certainly this year the indications are, through the universities, that actually enrolments in agricultural related courses have actually gone up and I think that's an encouraging sign."

Mr Rolleston said overseas workers now made up a large part of the dairy industry workforce, and farmers often found it hard to find New Zealanders with similar enthusiasm.