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Influx of Filipino Dairy Farm Workers




NZ's dairy industry dependent on migrant workers


Filipino dairy farm workers have been working on dairy farms outside the Philippines for several years now,

including large dairy farms in the Middle East, Japan, Ireland and the UK


By Mel Fernandez




ASHBURTON, South Island - Over the last few years the demand for experienced and reliable dairy farm workers has grown rapidly as the industry continues to expand worldwide.


The dairy industry is New Zealand’s biggest export earner and annual exports are in excess of NZ$10 billion reports the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.


According Immigration New Zealand (INZ) there are 4.4 million dairy cows in New Zealand: that is the same as the number of people living in New Zealand.


The average dairy farm has 380 cows, but many farms are a lot bigger and quite a lot of farms now have more than 1,500 cows.


The industry employs around 37,000 people. To meet the labour shortfall it is currently facing, the dairy industry has become dependent on migrant workers, mainly from the Philippines, according to Jeff (not his real name), manager of a job placement agency.


Jeff’s company specialises in placing overseas dairy farm workers with New Zealand farmers. Currently farmers from around the country are unable to find suitable dairy farm workers within New Zealand.


The demand for dairy farm workers from the Philippines has been very strong following the recovery in milk prices last year.


As most dairy farm workers come from the Philippines, NZ farmers have come to rely on skilled migrant workers from the Philippines in making up the shortfall in local labour, says Jeff.


He believes that the Filipinos have developed an excellent reputation amongst NZ dairy farmers.


Most applicants from the Philippines have agriculture or veterinary degrees, and have proven themselves to NZ farmers to be reliable and responsible workers.


The recruitment of skilled migrants from the Philippines is regulated by the Philippines Government through the Philip-pines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA).


All recruitment must be processed through a licensed agency, and workers coming to New Zealand are required to obtain an Overseas Employment Certificate before leaving.


The POEA oversees the activities of licensed agents and may cancel their licenses if not complying with the laws of the Philippines.


INZ requires all applicants to go through stringent medical tests before approving their work visas.


Applicant’s references and qualifications are thoroughly checked by INZ before approval of visas.


INZ will only approve work visas if applicants can provide at least two years proven work experience on commercial dairy farms.


For most applicants farmers are required to obtain approval from Work & Income to show that there are no suitable applicants locally.


If the applicant has proven supervisory experience in various aspects of dairy farming ranging from milking to pasture management, they may qualify under the Skilled Migrant Category, this will avoid the need to having the approval from WINZ first.


Before being allowed to travel to New Zealand, workers must apply for a visa. There are several options when completing the paperwork.


Workers can either download the relevant form and complete it themselves or hire a licensed immigration adviser listed at the Immigration Advisers Authority or a lawyer with a practising certificate listed at the New Zealand Law Society.


New Zealand law requires anyone giving immigration advice to hold a licence, unless exempt.


Among others, people allowed to give advice without a licence include New Zealand Government employees who provide immigration advice as part of their job, Members of the New Zealand Parliament and foreign diplomats and their staff in New Zealand.


Check out the INZ website: