Meat companies are pulling out all the stops to attract more workers as the industry gears up for the new season. Silver Fern Farms needs between 500 and 600 workers throughout the country, with at least half needed at its five South Island plants. General manager People Matt Ballard says the meat industry has always competed with other seasonal industries such as horticulture and forestry and to attract more the company has raised its minimum hourly rate to $24 an hour – up 10 per cent, to help with recruitment and retention. SFF is also trying to attract students on their summer breaks to join its workforce. Alliance general manager people and safety Chris Selbie says they are busy recruiting staff for its plants across the country which employ 2000 people. It says it prefers to employ New Zealanders first, but unemployment is low, especially in rural areas where its plants were located.