Thousands of farmers on annual move

Source: 1News

Today marks the biggest day of the sharemilking calendar. Thousands of farmers move to new farms for work on the first day of June.

This year, the event falls on World Milk Day with Covid-19 restrictions continuing to cause headaches for the dairy industry. 

In South Canterbury, the Dondertmans are moving 20 minutes down the road.

“This is a bigger farm for us, an opportunity to milk more cows and employ a bigger team,” Becs Dondertman said.

Five-thousand households are relocating today, with some moving from one end of the country to the other.

However, a Covid-19 law allowing tenants the right to stay in their homes until late this month has meant dozens of farm employees have refused to move.

“That's been the situation which is very difficult for the farm owner when they need to bring new people in,” Dairy NZ’s Tim Mackle told 1 NEWS. 

The Government’s temporary accommodation programme is available for those left in limbo.

Meanwhile, border closures are causing problems for the dairy industry, which is reliant on migrant workers.

There are currently 1000 positions which need to be filled before the season starts in several weeks’ time, with the number expected to grow.

“We've been aware of the potential shortage of staff so we decided to get very organised with our calf rearers and junior staff quite early on,” Josh Dondertman said.

The shortage has since prompted calls for specialised farm workers stuck overseas to be allowed to re-enter the country.

The industry is also calling for the Government to extend the visas of migrant farm workers already in the country to ensure they are not sent home during the busy calving season.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said he is currently awaiting advice on potential changes to border exemptions.

A campaign has since been launched to get Kiwis living in the city to enter the rural sector.