Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for farmers | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for farmers

Our priority is keeping farmers, food producers and our people healthy and safe. This page contains all the relevant information we’re aware of and we’ll update it as required.
Saturday, 21 May 2022

New Zealand has moved to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights).

Key points for farmers to note:

  • The primary sector can continue to operate with appropriate measures in place.
  • Farming under Omicron Phase 3: Measures to keep the critical primary sector supply chain going through the outbreak such as the close contact exemption scheme and ‘bubbles of one’ remain. Isolation and testing requirements have changed. Find out more here.
  • Have a plan in case you or someone on your farm gets COVID-19 or is exposed to it. There’s more info on this below, including the ‘Preparing for COVID-19 on-farm’ cross-sector checklist. We recommend reminding your staff of the importance of maintaining small, separate ‘bubbles’ and of getting vaccinated.
  • Talk to your processor about any potential delays and their policies around accepting stock in the event of a COVID-19 case on-farm – and be mindful of the pressures they’re dealing with during this fast-evolving situation.
  • For information on the traffic lights system go to the official COVID-19 website. The Ministry for Primary Industries website also contains useful information for primary sector businesses, particularly in this handy resource.
  • You may need to provide your My Vaccine Pass, the official record of your COVID-19 vaccination status, when entering businesses, attending events and the like. You can also choose to require this for visitors to your farm.
  • Vaccination and control measures are essential – ensure that everyone follows the appropriate protocols and protects our industry, which is essential to New Zealand’s economy. There are some helpful resources on this page, but the key things to remember are to ensure staff and visitors scan in using a QR poster and that they wear masks, everyone maintains a two-metre distance, that items touched during the day are disinfected and that if anyone’s sick they stay home.
  • We are still taking a cautious approach to in-person B+LNZ events and there will be some changes. We’ll update registered attendees and each event’s info on our website. (See also the section at the bottom of this page).
  • Livestock auctions are classified as events under the traffic light system. That means there are some restrictions that vary depending on which traffic light setting an area is in, and whether My Vaccine Pass is being used. More info on page 22 of this MPI resource.

As the situation changes, we’ll update this page and post information on B+LNZ’s social media pages.

On this page:






What if someone on-farm gets or is exposed to COVID-19?

Key points:

  • Plan ahead – it’s better to be prepared.
  • If someone on your farm tests positive for COVID-19, this is a public health issue first and foremost – it’s important to follow the rules.
  • We all have a role to play to keep COVID-19 out of the red meat sector’s supply chain.

Plan ahead. Talk with your staff, contractors, neighbours and friends about how you might support each other in the event someone on your farm contracts COVID-19. You should have a contingency plan in place to ensure your stock can be looked after if you or someone you know is sick.

If anyone has symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but has not been tested, or has not had test results back yet, we recommend a precautionary approach is taken and the guidelines below are followed.

In the event of a positive test:

  • Report your RAT result online – here’s how.
  • Self-isolate along with your household contacts for the required time – see here for the latest instructions.
  • Tell the people you live with, your workplace and other close contacts at places such as your local school.
  • When someone is self-isolating it’s a good idea to have a process in place to check in with them about their physical and mental health – this should be done by phone. If any support such as food and supplies is being provided to anyone self-isolating, items must be left at the door of the house.
  • COVID-19 is a notifiable disease and you should keep records of such illnesses, including dates.
  • Contact your meat processor immediately so that appropriate control measures are put in place, and to manage the risk to others.
  • Unwell workers will be on leave. It’s best practice that staff go on sick leave but other options are available. You may be able to access a wage subsidy to assist with this. Read more about these options here.

For COVID-19 health advice and information, contact the Healthline team (for free) on 0800 358 5453. There’s also information on the Unite Against COVID-19 website about what happens if you test positive for COVID-19.

Key links:

Protecting others on-farm is important.

  • You are able to talk to other staff members about any COVID-19 positive test result.

Protecting your farm business and animals in the event of a positive or suspected case of COVID-19 is essential. Check out the resources below, particularly the protocols document.

Useful documents for protecting your farming business

Cross-sector checklist: preparing for COVID-19 on-farm

This document was developed by B+LNZ and other sector organisations to help you prepare – includes a section to record information to assist a Medical Officer of Health. The other documents below provide further useful planning guidance.

Download Checklist: preparing for COVID-19 on-farm (PDF, 587KB)

COVID-19 Ten Point Plan

This document gives an overview of the 10 factors farmers could consider when planning their response to COVID-19.

Download COVID-19 Ten Point Plan (PDF, 56KB)

For more detailed information about farm protocols, the following was developed for Alert Level 4 but still contains some useful guidance  go to:

Download COVID-19 protocols on farms (PDF, 267KB)

When the unexpected happens, what happens to your farm?

This document is intended as a simple guide to allow family, friends or neighbours to come in and tend to the immediate needs of your livestock.

Download Farm Operations Manual (PDF, 477KB)

MOU between owner/manager and employee

This document is a letter that a farmer may wish to sign with each of your staff members so that everyone is clear on expectations. It was developed for use under Alert Level 4 lockdown but you could tailor it.

Download COVID-19 MOU with staff (PDF, 160KB)

(In case of lockdowns) Information for staff going to and from work

Localised lockdowns could still happen under the new traffic light system. If this means farm workers need to show why they need to travel to and from work, the following letter may be helpful: ESSENTIAL SERVICES EMPLOYEE MOVEMENT DECLARATION (PDF, 123KB)

In addition, staff should carry a form of identification (e.g. driver licence). 

It would also be helpful for each worker to carry the day’s job sheet or other documentation showing where they are going and what they will be doing – keep it short and simple.


B+LNZ events

Events and meetings are allowed under the traffic light system, but there are limits on attendance which depend on the use of vaccination certificates and the status of the area.

There will be changes to how B+LNZ runs events.

Please check the relevant event page online – and keep an eye on your emails for updates on events you’ve registered for. We appreciate your patience while we adjust to the requirements.

Our priority will remain keeping our people and farmers safe.

It’s important everyone attending the event registers beforehand and please keep these things in mind on the day:

  • wash your hands 
  • scan QR codes 
  • turn on Bluetooth tracing on the NZ COVID Tracer app 
  • practise distancing where practical and or wear a mask
  • stay home if you’re feeling unwell and get advice about a COVID-19 test.


Looking after yourself and your communities

We encourage farmers to reach out to their neighbours over the phone or email and discuss ways they could support each other if, for example, someone were to become sick.

If you’re feeling unwell and develop a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, please contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or contact your GP, including phoning ahead of your visit.

It continues to be a difficult time for New Zealand and it’s important we look after each other and follow the latest advice from the Ministry of Health.

Rural Support is also always available on 0800 787 254.

If you or your staff are directly affected by COVID-19 and need further support, you can also call 0800 FARMING and select option 3.

Your responsibility as an employer

Social distancing of one metre in workplaces should be in place. 

The Worksafe website has employment-related resources.

Help available: Rural Support Trust

The Rural Support Trust are there to support farming families.

Please don’t hesitate to seek assistance: 0800 RURAL HELP or