Initial findings from our Agricultural Contractor Survey suggests the industry can be summarised as follows:
- $2.4 billion invested in machinery
- Services 80-90% of New Zealand farms
- Faces a staff shortage of 29% due to border closures
Agricultural Contractor Profile
Our agricultural contractor survey was circulated amongst mainly small to medium-sized contractors. The profile of typical agricultural contractors completing the survey was as follows:
- 23 years in business
- $4.5m invested in machinery
- 91 farms serviced
- 18 staff during peak season
- $225,000 invested in machinery per worker
These contractors need to hire 7 to 8 seasonal workers for the upcoming season. On average, contractors need to hire 5 experienced seasonal workers and 2.5 trainees.
With these staffing requirements, contractors have started the hiring cycle without access to overseas seasonal workers due to the current border closures.
Border closures are a serious issue for agriculture contractors. They represent a major challenge for the industry. Overseas seasonal workers make up 29% of the workforce for the typical contractor.
The seriousness of the situation is reflected in concerns expressed by contractors. Concerns in our agricultural contractor survey are summarised as follows:
- Ability to service clients with a shortage of experienced workers
- Health & safety
- Maintaining service levels
- Public liability
- Increased competition for experienced workers
Next month, when the window for hiring skilled overseas workers starts to close, it will start developing into a real problem.
Contractors are heavily reliant on skilled overseas seasonal workers. The current issue will escalate into a full-blown crisis if contractors can’t find the skilled workers they need for the upcoming season.
Confronted with a situation of going into the upcoming season without the experienced overseas workers upon which the industry relies, contractors appear to be left with few options:
- Park up expensive machinery
- Put inexperienced operators in expensive machines
- Poach experienced operators from other contractors
- Do nothing, and do as much as possible
The resolution of this matter lies in the hands of the government.
The government has been made aware of this looming crisis. It is entirely avoidable.
Allowing contractors to bring in overseas seasonal workers as “critical workers” under the recently announced border exceptions will resolve the matter.
We hope the government will quickly come to it’s senses.
In anticipation that they will, we are pulling together the information to support applications for border exemptions for skilled overseas seasonal workers.
We’ve got a team of 10 people working on it. If you’re interested, get in touch.CONTACT US
30 June 2020