Harvesting unity amidst New Zealand's agricultural hurdles

Harvesting unity amidst New Zealand's agricultural hurdles

The last few years in particular have been a roller coaster of ups and downs for New Zealand's agricultural sector. Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Richard McIntyre tells Dom George the dairy industry has felt a large portion of that unpredictability.

The episode touches on a range of topics from the relief brought by rainfall to the challenges associated with supporting essential migrant workers. A significant portion of the conversation revolves around the story of Noland Kinney, a migrant dairy worker at risk of deportation due to a kidney condition, despite his substantial contributions to the dairy industry over a decade. 

"Noland is on a temporary migrant visa and he has been in that situation for the last 10 years... he's contributed so much," McIntyre explains.

"He is, you know, in all [respects], aside from legal status, a Kiwi." 

This highlights the human aspect of immigration policies and the tension between the economic reliance on migrant workers and their healthcare and residency rights. 

The discussion then pivots to the solidarity within the agricultural community, encapsulated by the term "Team Ag." The unity among different farming groups is emphasised as critical for facing the sector's challenges. 

"If we're going to disagree, we disagree behind closed doors and we have the debates and that sort of thing and then we move forwards with a united voice, because that's how we actually get stuff done for our rural communities, for our farmers and our farming businesses." 

Celebrating National Lamb Day, the pair acknowledges the importance of unity in bolstering farmers' resolve. McIntyre shares his cautious optimism regarding the dairy industry, noting recent improvements in the Global Dairy Trade and the potential for better milk price forecasts. 

"When you consider the sentiment six months ago... I think things have recovered a lot," he says, indicating a positive shift from previous downturns, although acknowledging the ongoing struggles with high costs and interest rates. 

Overall, the episode paints a vivid picture of New Zealand's farming sector, emphasising the importance of compassion in policy-making, the power of collective action, and the cautious optimism driving the industry forward.

Listen to the full chat between Richard McIntyre and Dominic George above.

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