Hauraki Herald

Farm pay rises as worker shortage bites


Salaries for farm workers across the dairy, sheep, beef and arable sectors have increased over the past two years, a Rabobank report shows.

Salaries across on-farm positions were up by a weighted average of 14% since 2020, with the mean salary rising to $63,931. Dairy sector salaries increased by an average of 15%, with salaries for sheep and beef positions up by an average of 14% and arable salaries up by an average of 8%, the report found.

Rabobank New Zealand chief executive Todd Charteris said for the sector to flourish it was essential it was viewed as an attractive place to work. Competitiv­e remunerati­on was a key in enticing school-leavers and other workers into on-farm roles.

‘‘Farm owners have found it increasing­ly difficult to source skilled labour over recent seasons, and this is highlighte­d by the report which found close to 70% of employers were now finding it harder to source good employees than 12 months ago,’’ Charteris said.

Covid-19 border restrictio­ns had contribute­d to this situation by limiting access to overseas workers, while New Zealand’s low overall unemployme­nt rate had also hindered efforts to get more local workers to take on new jobs in rural locations, Charteris said.

Arable workers earned the largest average salary at $65,498, slightly more than dairy workers with $64,658 and the average sheep and beef salary of $62,352, the 2022 Federated Farmers – Rabobank Farm Salaries Remunerati­on Summary Report shows.

The dairy operations manager role, the most senior dairy position, recorded the largest salary increase of all the surveyed onfarm positions, jumping by 27% from two years ago to a mean of $107,593.

‘‘This is the highest average salary of all the surveyed roles and reflects the significan­t responsibi­lity that comes with this role, which includes managing the farm’s physical performanc­e and budget as well as negotiatin­g with a host of farm supply companies,’’ Charteris said.

The most senior arable sector role also jumped by 20%. There were also strong salary increases for some entry level roles, including dairy farm assistant, up by 17%, and sheep or beef general hand, up by 16%, the report shows. Accommodat­ion was being provided for 75% of dairy workers employees, 61% of sheep and beef employees and 41% of arable workers.

‘‘The Government’s recent announceme­nt that it would provide border exemptions for 1580 internatio­nal primary sector workers will help alleviate these labour shortages,’’ Charteris said.

‘‘However, it’s clear more needs to be done by the industry to encourage young New Zealanders into careers in the sector.

‘‘Since mid-last year, internatio­nal workers have been required to earn an hourly rate above the median wage to be eligible for some lengths of visa. In some cases this prompted employers to bump up their existing internatio­nal workers’ salaries to ensure they surpass this threshold and are therefore eligible for a longer visa period,’’ Charteris said.

The heathy returns for farming businesses over this period and the high recent rate of inflation played a role in the growth of salaries, Charteris said.

The report grouped the results of a remunerati­on survey conducted across late 2021 and early 2022.

The report also provided a range of informatio­n relating to on-farm positions including total package values, that factored in other employment benefits such as food and vehicle use, workers’ length of service, accommodat­ion costs and weekly hours worked.

 ?? ROBIN EDIE/STUFF ?? Salaries across on-farm positions were up by a weighted average of 14% since 2020, with the mean salary rising to $63,931.
ROBIN EDIE/STUFF Salaries across on-farm positions were up by a weighted average of 14% since 2020, with the mean salary rising to $63,931.

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