Government supports dairy farming jobs for kiwis

  • Hon Carmel Sepuloni
  • Hon Damien O’Connor
Agriculture Social Development

The Government and dairy sector have joined forces on a new campaign to support COVID-19 affected workers into a farming career, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

The 2020 GoDairy campaign was launched today by DairyNZ, in partnership with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for Social Development (MSD), and with support from Federated Farmers.

“We know that people have lost their jobs because of COVID-19, and we know there is significant and urgent demand for trained workers in the dairy sector,” Damien O’Connor said.

“We want to continue to connect people with jobs in dairy, and more broadly in the primary industries because we know these sectors will be key to our economic recovery.

“GoDairy has a crucial role to play. The programme has a history of successfully recruiting and supporting people into dairy careers, over the past 15 years. The Government and the sector are giving it a welcome boost to encourage new-found farmers, by investing $3.5 million to expand this crucial work during our economic recovery,” Damien O’Connor said.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said that although the new campaign is still in its early days, there is good interest from people wanting to pursue a dairy farming career.
“Like all successful businesses, dairy farming needs good talent. Currently there are 1,000 job vacancies on dairy farms nationwide,” Tim Mackle said.

“There are excellent career opportunities in farming – from doing the books, to working with machinery, caring for animals, and managing staff.  Technology plays a major part in the business too.

“To date, GoDairy has interest from people across a range of career backgrounds – from tourism and hospitality to engineering, finance, and truck drivers. While many people might not be familiar with the day-to-day of dairy farming, most have work and life skills that are readily transferrable,” Tim Mackle said.

The Minister of Social Development Hon Carmel Sepuloni said MSD is focused on getting New Zealanders into jobs and this is an important partnership to support people who want to refocus their skill sets.

“We have direct access to the largest pool of available talent in New Zealand and can help the dairy sector fill jobs while supporting New Zealanders into an important career pathway,” she said.

Damien O’Connor said GoDairy’s training module will be available to other primary industry sectors – outside of dairy - to adapt, such as beef, lamb, and horticulture.

“This campaign complements the Government’s work to place 10,000 New Zealanders in primary sector jobs in the immediate term by rapidly retraining and absorbing workers displaced from other sectors. We’ve committed $19.3 million to this as part of our $1.6 billion Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package.”

Other Government investment into jobs and training includes:

Anyone interested in a dairy farming career can discover more about GoDairy’s Farm Ready Training and sign up at


DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training courses for newcomers are already underway, with 64 of an expected 500 participants receiving an online introduction to farming. This is followed by two weeks of hands-on training on farms. This training is for New Zealand residents and citizens only.

GoDairy also includes initiatives aimed at helping farm employers to create great dairy farming workplaces, such as the Good Boss campaign supported by Federated Farmers, Dairy Women’s Network, New Zealand Young Farmers, and others across the primary sector.

Dairy farm wages are among the best in the agri-sector, with entry positions averaging $48,000 per annum, rising to $60,000-$62,000 for herd and assistant manager positions, and $78,000 for farm managers.

Jobs are available on dairy farms in most regions, in particular Waikato, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, with many an easy drive to towns and cities.