Dairy farmers will be particularly pleased to see a $19.3 million investment from the Government’s 2020 Budget to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs, according to DairyNZ.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the sector is already facing a 1000-person skill shortage that will be greatly exacerbated by Covid-19 and an inability to recruit migrant staff.
“With unemployment forecast to hit 9.8 per cent by September, we are hoping many Kiwis will consider a career in our world-leading dairy sector.
“DairyNZ’s new career changers campaign, Go Dairy, will ensure new entrants to the sector will hit the ground running.”
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says Budget 2020 makes major investments in the primary sector that will support more than 10,000 people into jobs.
“Our farmers, growers and producers will play a critical role in NZ’s economic recovery so we’re making a $232 million investment to boost jobs and opportunities in the primary sector and rural NZ.
“This is a significant investment which will grow and transform the primary sector.”
The Minister says there are significant employment opportunities in our primary industries “and we’re going to be training people to have the skills they need for the jobs we have”.
“To that end, we’re investing $19.3 million in a range of initiatives that will partner and support more than 10,000 NZers in primary sector jobs by rapidly retraining and absorbing workers displaced from other sectors like hospitality, tourism and aviation.
“It will be a big change for some, so we’ll be creating familiarisation courses to help new workers settle into primary sector roles and lives.”
A further $128 million is earmarked for wilding pine and wallaby control, providing hundreds of jobs; $20.2 million to help rural and fishing communities recover from Covid-19; $45.3m to help horticulture seize opportunities for future growth; $14.9 million to reduce food waste by redirecting food to people in need; and $5.4 million for critical resources to identify and manage animal welfare issues.
Federated Farmers believes the Budget’s provision for re-training and other support for NZers who will be among the forecast 10 per cent unemployment queue by next month is the right step.
Federated Farmers Vice-President and economics spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says his organisation set up its own apprenticeship scheme to find more workers for the dairy industry “and is looking forward to seeing more government support now for this and other similar schemes to get people into primary sector jobs”.
“Keeping as many Kiwis in work as possible is obviously a priority. We appreciate the acknowledgement of how important the primary sector will be to economic recovery.”
Andrew says farmers will be pleased with a $1.1 billion environmental jobs spend and specific mention of control of pests such as wallabies and wilding pines. “Also positive is the increased support for biodiversity on private land through agencies like QEII and Landcare Trust.
“But as with so many aspects of the Budget announcements, the devil will be in the detail.”
DairyNZ agrees. Tim says a $3 billion investment in infrastructure is also welcome news for rural NZ – but while the dollars are there, the detail isn’t. “DairyNZ will be engaging with government in coming weeks and months to ensure water storage, rural broadband and enhanced mobile coverage are priorities.”
The Agriculture Minister says there is also a $433 million package to fund 4000 jobs during five years in regional environmental projects.
“The initiatives in this package will support the Government’s objectives in its Action for Healthy Waterways. These initiatives show how environment-related actions can make a meaningful contribution to the post-Covid-19 economic recovery.”