Fonterra dairy farmers in the Bay of Plenty have received $1 billion in milk payouts this year and the local community is likely to reap half of that.
Business leaders say the sector plays a vital role in the region and the flow-on effect is important for the economy.
The sector also has jobs up for grabs, which could include perks like free meat and cheap accommodation.
Fonterra Farm Store Bay of Plenty and Taupo region head Lisa Payne said for every dollar a farmer earned, they spend up to 50 cents in their local community.
''The money flows back into local economies as farmers do things like reinvest in their businesses and make more purchases of on-farm supplies and equipment.''
However, Covid had made it a ''tough environment for everyone right now''.
''Every market, industry and business has felt the impact of Covid-19. For the global dairy market Covid-19 has brought increased volatility and uncertainty. Despite these challenges Fonterra has performed well, delivering both a strong milk price and good earnings over the last year.''
Earlier this month, Fonterra increased the mid-point of its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to $6.80 per kgMS, up from $6.40 per kgMS.
DairyNZ People team leader Jane Muir said there was a range of jobs available in the Bay of Plenty, from farm assistants through to sharemilkers.
''Most are permanent roles, however there are also opportunities that would suit those on holiday from study.''
Dairy farm wages were among the best in the agri-sector, she said.
Entry positions average $48,000 per annum, rising to $60,000-$62,000 for herd and assistant manager positions, and $78,000 for farm managers.
The View from the Cow Shed report, which surveyed farmers nationwide, found 94 per cent reported they were proud to be working in the dairy sector.
However, 62 per cent said they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the past year – with an uncertain regulatory framework identified as one of the main contributing causes.
The industry hoped Kiwis would continue to consider work in the dairy sector and its GoDairy job campaign which started during lockdown had gone well.
Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provisional president Darryl Jensen said it had been a tough year for farmers but they were able ''to box on and keep their businesses ticking over''.
In his view, farmers would most likely pay down debt first before doing any discretionary spending. A lot of money was also being spent on environmental compliance.
Andre Meier from Te Puke Young Farmers said the industry provided good career opportunities.
The 31-year-old, who was named Dairy Manager of the Year at the 2020 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, said he enjoyed working with animals and with young, enthusiastic people, as well as the lifestyle and training on offer.
Meier said the job also required a range of technical skills.
''In the past, there has been a stigma that you don't need brains in dairying farming but in this day and age, you have to work out a lot of calculations. There are a lot of people who have come out of high professional jobs and they are amazed at how much is actually involved.''
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said the three prime drivers of the Rotorua economy were forestry, tourism and farming.
''So dairy is important to our economy at both local and national levels. It is the primary sector who will lead NZ out of the Covid recession.''
The payout was not a windfall.
''It is the core income from farming, much of which has already been pre-spent on things like mortgages, fertiliser, stock food, rates, maintenance and living expenses. Once dairy farmers know their own annual position, they will know if they have discretional cash to spend, and then make decisions about annual investment, maintenance and holidays.
''Businesses like farm machinery, fertiliser, vehicle and building materials companies will see the benefit of this.''
Farming was a great lifestyle if you are prepared to work hard.
''It is outdoors and working close to nature. It attracts a special type of 'can do' person with a wide, practical skillset.''
Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the local dairy sector made a bigger contribution to local GDP than most people realised.
The primary sector supports a wide variety of contractors and sole traders, so many people benefit from the industry's revenue.
''The Western Bay's growth is largely supported by our strengths in exporting our goods to the world. The uncertainties around the global pandemic emphasise the importance of having a diverse economy, particularly when it comes to feeding developing nations.''