A NATIONAL shortage of agriculture workers has hit Wairarapa farms.
However, despite an acknowledged lack of workers on sheep and beef farms in the region, only five people attended a public meeting to discuss the issue at Copthorne Resort Solway Park yesterday.
"I think farmers are very relaxed people but now the lurch is coming and they can't find staff," meeting organiser Tom Hamilton, of regional development agency Hawke's Bay Incorporated, said.
The meeting is the second step in a review of East Coast North Island farm labour and training needs with a report due in May.
Te Wharau sheep and beef farmer Alex Kyle, who runs a 2000ha operation, said the problem is not contained to the sheep and beef sector but runs through all industries.
He said he had talked with forestry contractors last week ? the firm had 17 trucks but just nine drivers.
Masterton casual farm worker Pat Murdoch, two Ministry of Social Development representatives and a branch manager from agricultural finance organisation Rabobank, made up the numbers at the meeting.
Mr Hamilton, who commissioned Hastings-based agribusiness company Nimmo-Bell to undertake the research, said the drift of larger families to the city is a root cause of the shortage.
"The end result is young kids in New Zealand aren't getting that experience or that taste of farming like they used to," he said, a point Mr Kyle affirmed.
He said with more things to occupy their time, children are not getting the hands-on experience any more.
"In this day and age kids have got so many more options, they don't go outside and build a treehouse. These days it's computers, TVs and Playstations. It's a different planet."
Generation Y's born from the late 1970s to the mid-90s ? dubbed the career changers who wake up in the morning and decide they don't want to work in their current job any more ? were another point of contention, and Mr Hamilton said there are fewer farmers who are willing to take on younger people to train them because of the time it takes.
"Farmers say it's the time that it takes to train young guys and we don't have the time any more."
Mr Kyle said farmers have reached a point where no workers are preferable to workers not up to the job.
"We've got enough to do without having to fight battles with people that don't cut the mustard," he said.
"I don't mind giving people a go if they cut the mustard."
Before the meeting, Wairarapa Federated Farmers meat and fibres chairman Alan Stuart said there is a national shortage, not just contained to agriculture.
There were no representatives from Federated Farmers at the public meeting, but Mr Stuart said the farming group put money into the cause to find out the cause of the shortage and how big the problem is.
He said there is not the hard-work ethic among people today that there used to be.
"The training institutes are doing their best but there's just a big draw of young people to the cities," he said.
"It's all tied up with electronic wizardry and perceived easier lifestyles and young kids today are brought up with a lot more electronic wizardry, and it's a lot more accessible in the cities."
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