Wednesday 25 November 2020
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New Zealand has too few foreign hired workers for harvesting

In agriculture in New Zealand, the labor shortage is increasing due to the corona pandemic; farmers are concerned about the coming harvest. The cause is not the high number of infections, but the strict access and quarantine regulations that apply to incoming foreign workers.

The National Farmers Association recently warned of significant staff shortages and that this endangered arable crops and could lead to animal feed shortages. For example, the production of grass silage is already being disrupted due to a lack of external workers, while a drought is beginning.

Although the New Zealand government approved the arrival of several hundred specialist workers and engineers from Great Britain and Ireland in September, only 58 eventually showed up. Main cause: lack of places in the special quarantine facilities. Hotels in New Zealand have been cleared completely for arriving foreign visitors.

Normally at this time of year, many hundreds of workers would get contracts for post-grain ensiling, but this can become a bottleneck if nothing happens. New Zealand is very strict about allowing unknown foreigners in the face of corona contamination. The country has reported only 1,635 cases in total to date.

The national horticultural organization says the prospects for the coming harvest are promising, but recruiting seasonal workers is a major problem. “We estimate that despite a significant increase in the number of working New Zealanders, we will still be short of staff of about 10,000,” said Association Chairman Barry O'Neil.

He therefore called on the New Zealand government to "open the border now" so that people from corona-free Pacific countries could come and reap the crop. This has always worked well for the past 13 years as part of a program for some accredited seasonal employers.

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