Members of the agriculture industry in New Zealand have warned of an impending economic hit if skilled workers are not allowed to return to the country.
Federated Farmers, an organization in New Zealand which lobbies on behalf of member farmers, has requested the government to allow border exemptions for skilled foreign workers, and let them back into the country in order to fill the voids left by their absence and a lack of adequately skilled local workforce.
According to a survey conducted by Rural Contractors NZ, the country could face an economic hit in excess of $110 million over the upcoming harvest season due to a lack of skilled operators needed by the agriculture industry.
The survey showed that without the addition of international talent in the agriculture industry, more than 8,000 clients would be left with unfinished work, and nearly 28 million tonnes of production will be lost.
Employment spokesman Chris Lewis said that while employing local talent to fill job vacancies is the ideal approach, it is difficult to find local labour adequately equipped to operate equipment worth $1 million or more.
He also insisted that skilled migrants needed to return to New Zealand to take charge of agriculture machinery, and spearhead the economic recovery process.
Managed entry of skilled migrants is seen as a possible option, with quarantine upon arrival paid for by the contracting firms if needed.
However, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is yet to shed light on when travel restrictions might be lifted.