Immigration changes announced by the Government are welcome and will help ease some of the pressure on the red meat sector’s migrant workforce.
“Without this visa extension, 100 of our 250 halal butcher workforce faced losing their right to stay in New Zealand next year,” says Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association (MIA).
“These roles are critical to supporting employment for thousands of other employees in the red meat sector, mainly in the regions, and the Government has clearly listened to our concerns.
“Without halal butchers, there is a real potential that the overall value of each animal processed is reduced, meaning less revenue for companies, farmers and the New Zealand economy. Halal processing generates over $3.3 billion of value-add halal certified meat products.
“However, we still face ongoing challenges in recruiting enough halal butchers. New Zealand has a relatively small Muslim population and this means that the industry must recruit from overseas to make up for the shortfall.
“That’s why we’re asking the Government to consider a more permanent solution that would facilitate the entry of migrant halal butchers such as a special visa category for halal butchers.”
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Notes to editor
The Meat Industry Association of New Zealand (Incorporated) (‘MIA’) is the voluntary trade association representing processors, marketers, and exporters of New Zealand red meat, rendered products, and hides and skins. MIA members represent 99 percent of domestic red meat production and export. The red meat industry is a critical part of New Zealand’s economy, and the second largest goods exporter with exports of more than $9.3 billion. It is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing industry employing some 25,000 people in about 60 processing plants, mainly in the regions.