Labour needs to explain why it is severely restricting the number of dairy farm workers allowed into the country for no apparent reason, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford and Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger say.
“Last year the dairy sector requested border exceptions for 1500 international dairy workers that were urgently needed for this year’s calving season,” Ms Stanford says.
“But the Government only granted 300, meaning this crucial sector will be short staffed and overworked for yet another season.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, but farmers have had enough of the constant roadblocks from this Labour Government – this time in the refusal to grant border exceptions for urgently-needed workers.”
Mrs Kuriger says hardworking farmers have helped to keep the rest of the economy afloat, but are being ignored by a Government that doesn’t care about the rural sector.
“With border restrictions loosening, there’s simply no rationale for continuing to turn down border exceptions for agriculture workers who are critical to our economy.
“Farmers are suffering from significant stress and mental health issues. Needlessly forcing them to go through yet another season critically understaffed is only going to make this problem worse.
“Labour talks a big game when it comes to kindness and mental health, yet they are failing to deliver critical workers to an essential industry. The Government should take the opportunity to actually help our farmers instead of just talking about it.”