The dairy industry is expected to pump about $1 billion into the Bay of Plenty economy this year and farmers say good job opportunities exist for Kiwis who are motivated and have positive attitudes.
Figures from Federated Farmers show pay rates start at $46,829 for an entry-level farm assistant and climb to $85,986 for a skilled dairy operations manager. The roles could also come with perks including accommodation and free meat.
Dairy NZ farm performance regional leader Andrew Reid said the sector was heading into its busiest time with calving and it had launched a Go Dairy campaign to recruit and train New Zealanders.
This included an "entry-level training course for career changers who are serious about a farming career", he said.
Nationally 1000 workers would be needed and in the Bay of Plenty 61 jobs were already advertised on Farm Source.
At the moment 25 per cent of dairy workers were migrants and 50 per cent of those came from the Philippines.
But Reid said it would take time to get more Kiwis into dairy and it was lobbying the Government to let 40 migrant workers who already have jobs in New Zealand but were stuck offshore back into the country.
"For this reason, we still need our migrant workers. There are plenty of jobs for Kiwis and migrant staff."
Fonterra Farm Store Bay of Plenty and Taupō region head Lisa Payne said it had more than 900 farmers in the region who would receive about $1b in milk payouts this season.
"So that money will come into the Bay of Plenty economy, it's quite significant and lots of hard work from farmers goes into achieving that."
The dairy giant also employed more than 400 workers at its dairy factories and in its farm stores.
Payne said to support small businesses Fonterra was also trying to pay its contractors faster which had been met with positive feedback.
"We have around 208 small businesses in the Bay who are usually paid on the 20th of the month and we thought they would benefit if we accelerated payment terms."
Fonterra's current range for its milk price was $7.10 to $7.30 per kilogram of milk solids, which would be confirmed in September, compared with $6.35 per kgMS last season.
Pukehina dairy farmer Derek Spratt said it had been a favourable season despite the dry weather and the pending payout would be helpful.
But he expected farmers "would tighten their belts" post-Covid-19 and they would be watching the New Zealand dollar closely.
There were numerous employment opportunities in agriculture, Spratt said, but there was a big shortfall in workers for "hands-on jobs on farms".
"But the big thing is people need to be motivated and they have got to have the right attitude because it can be a very tough job at certain times of the year."
Federated Farmers Rotorua/Taupō provincial president Colin Guyton was an advocate for getting more Kiwis working on farms.
The former policeman said he loved his job.
"I'm a farmer's son and ... the farm called me back home. It's a great lifestyle and a lot better than it used to be when I first started.
"The pay is pretty good. You get a house with the job and other perks."
These could include a cattle beast and pig for the freezer, he said.
Guyton had also been approached by a hospitality worker and spray painter who were looking for work in the wake of Covid-19.
"So I'm hoping and I'm optimistic that we might be able to employ a few more New Zealanders in the future."
Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provincial president Darryl Jensen said milk production was on par with last season even though parts of the region battled drought conditions.
Jensen said a selling point for people wanting to work on dairy farms was the lifestyle.
"You can go home and eat breakfast and lunch with your wife and kids or take part in their school."
Farmers were becoming smarter when it came to time.
The regional commissioner for the Ministry for Social Development, Mike Bryant, said it had 328 vacancies listed across the Bay of Plenty region - and 96 were in the agriculture, horticulture and forestry industries.
"We encourage people to take up these opportunities as it can be a stepping stone to other types of work and, of those that are part-time or seasonal, can lead to full-time work.
The ministry had also established the Rapid Return to Work programme to help people recently displaced from their jobs.