The Government is underestimating the size of the labour shortage rural contractors are facing as they come into their busy season, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.
“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says he expects rural contractors generally require 350 foreign workers to get through the season. But contractors dispute this, saying many more will likely be needed to fill the labour shortage.
“He also admitted the Government’s Covid-19 training programme is only training 40 people across the country to fill these highly-skilled roles.
“The Minister implied that if someone is capable of driving a van then they are qualified to drive a tractor. This is a simplistic view that doesn’t take into account the complexities of rural contracting and the high-value crops that are at stake.
“This labour shortage is going to cause major headaches as farmers start moving into silage season.
“Damien O’Connor needs to work with rural contractors to find a way forward on this issue.”