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New Zealand’s horticultural industry are screaming out of more workers and the Government needs to listen to them, Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller says.

“When our Kiwifruit growers are requesting a change to immigration settings to help alleviate pressure caused by unprecedented labour shortages, the Government would be wise to listen” Mr Muller said.

“We are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry that supports local families, industries and communities. The Kiwifruit industry alone needs over 8000 pickers to pick and pack our $2 billion annual crop”.

“The RSE scheme introduced in 2007 currently allows 11,100 temporary workers into New Zealand for seasonal work like fruit picking. The industry says it urgently needs that cap extended by at least another 2000”

“They simply need more labour than can be sourced locally. We all know that tourists and backpackers aren’t a stable supply. The industry needs a sustainable form of migration if we don’t want to see fruit left on the vine or rotting on the ground, and an extension of the RSE scheme is the most viable option” he added.

“I’m not saying this as an outsider. My family and I have built our lives on the foundations of the horticultural industry”

“That industry is being put at risk by a Government that campaigned on a populist platform of slashing immigration without considering the devastating impact it would have on our regions – those regions are now paying the price” Mr Muller concluded.

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