Increased labor for New Zealand growers

NOTNew Zealand’s horticulture industry has welcomed the New Zealand government’s decision to raise the cap on its Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 16,000.

HortNZ chief executive Nadine Tunley said while the increase will not benefit the apple and kiwifruit harvests that are currently underway, it was good news for the horticulture industry, in the long run.

“Raising the CSR worker cap will give producers some hope for the future,” Tunley said.

“Producers are currently under incredible stress due to the severe labor shortages that Covid has created. Some growers say they only have 50% of the workers they need, but continue to do everything they can to get the fruit picked, packed and marketed.

“CSR workers are arriving regularly which is a testament to all parties given the challenges of Covid and the Tonga tsunami. We hope to reach the current cap of 14,400 in time for this season, as apple and kiwi harvests reach their peak and grape growers begin winter pruning.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the increase would help address the labor shortage that is hampering the sector.

“We have increased the cap for the 2021/2022 season from 14,400 to 16,000 so that employers in the horticultural and viticultural sector can access more labor to help with planting, maintenance, harvesting, packaging and winter pruning. It will also help prepare the sector for the next season,” O’Connor said.

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