Southland MP Joseph Mooney reckons the farming industry’s shortage of workers is dire, and has launched a petition to get the Government to take action. This week Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor approved border class exceptions for 200 dairy workers and 50 veterinarians, but Joseph Mooney says that is well short of what the industry needs. The petition asks for 500 MIQ spaces each fortnight for skilled migrant workers needed in NZ for the dairy industry’s upcoming calving season. A Fed Farmers survey shows 49 per cent of dairy farmer respondents are short-staffed – 46 per cent have had vacancies unfilled for more than three months while 25 per cent have been unable to fill employment vacancies for more than six months. Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick wrote to Damien O’Connor about his concerns for the health and wellbeing of those, and the animals, in the industry. He feels O’Connor’s gesture “is just a token and needs to go a whole lot further.” He says at the moment there is a shortage of roughly 1800 workers in Southland.