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

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for farmers

Our main priority is keeping farmers, food producers and staff healthy and safe. We're closely monitoring Government advice regarding the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Thursday, 9 September 2021

New Zealand is at higher/varied COVID-19 Alert Levels.

Update 29 November 2021: The Government has announced the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light) settings for each region from 11.59pm on Thursday 2 December. We’ll provide more information on this for farmers soon. In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries has some useful information for primary sector businesses on its website.

Key points for farmers to note:

  • 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.
  • With different alert levels in place, you need to know the latest info on crossing alert level borders for essential travel. We’re keeping farmers updated by email and on the B+LNZ NNI and MNNI Facebook pages and you should check the official COVID-19 page. Key things to note include: you may need to carry evidence of your right to travel across the boundary (a new Business Travel Document or a letter like this) and photo ID – and may need to show proof you’ve been tested for COVID-19 in the previous seven days – so be sure to check ahead. Employers of essential workers who need to cross regional boundaries for work are required to have processes in place to enable these employees to be tested for COVID-19 during work hours – and there’s specific info on testing for workers who cross the boundaries (including how to register for saliva testing and drop off samples) on this page.
  • Farming, processing and relevant support services are deemed essential. The full list of essential businesses and services can be found on MPI’s website here. There is no requirement to register as an essential business or service.
  • Employees travelling to work within an Alert Level 3 or 4 area should carry a letter. Employees may be asked to show who they work for so they can prove they have a reason to travel. We’ve provided a template you can use, available here, and we recommend that you carry identification to prove you’re the person named on the letter. More info on the COVID-19 website here.
  • Be prepared in case of a long lockdown. We also recommend reminding your staff of the importance of maintaining small, separate ‘bubbles’ and of getting vaccinated.
  • The Delta variant is highly contagious so, regardless of alert levels, it’s even more important 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. 
  • There could be delays in getting livestock processed due to new operating procedures for processors. We encourage farmers to talk with their processor directly and to be mindful of the pressures that processors are dealing with during this fast-evolving situation.
  • We are taking a cautious approach to in-person B+LNZ events even under lower alert levels. We’ll update registered attendees and each event’s info on our website.

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 – follow the instructions of your local public health unit.
  • We all have a role to play to keep COVID-19 out of the 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 in the event of someone on your farm contracting COVID-19.

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 for you or someone on-farm:

  • You’ll be contacted by your local public health unit. It’s essential you follow their instructions to protect others.
  • It’s highly likely confirmed cases will have to enter quarantine because other suitable arrangements can only be approved by the Medical Officer of Health. Prevention is therefore the best approach, and it pays to plan ahead to ensure your farm would be looked after if you got sick. If you do get a positive test result, the public health team will provide instructions and advice specific to your situation and needs.
  • Close contacts will have to self-isolate – if they’re workers they won’t be able to come on-farm. Have a process in place for someone to check in with them about their physical and mental health while they’re self-isolating – this should be done by phone and if any support such as food and supplies is being provided to anyone self-isolating, all 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.

Protecting others on-farm is important.

  • Health officials will contact you to discuss what this situation means for your staff.
  • You are able to talk to other staff members about any COVID-19 positive test result.
  • Federated Farmers has useful resources to answer employment questions. You can access their website here.

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 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.

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

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. 

Information for staff going to and from work

Under higher alert levels, or where alert levels differ between regions, farm workers could be stopped on the way to work by police.

This is a link to a draft letter that staff can carry to and from work: 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

In-person B+LNZ events have been postponed, but may be rescheduled online. We’ll update registered attendees and each event’s info on our website.

Note that we will only run face-to-face events under Alert Level 1 and Alert Level 2 (under 100 people) - you will need to register each individual attending to avoid anyone being turned away on the day. We’ll be following Ministry of Health guidelines for any events that we hold and will be constantly reviewing the situation. 

If you are attending events at alert level 2 please keep these things in mind:

  • 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.

Your responsibility as an employer

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

Federated Farmers has some employment-related resources on their website. See also the Worksafe website.

If you have employees from overseas who may normally be planning a trip home at this time of the year, think through the implications of travel restrictions and how you may be able to support them to keep in touch with family remotely.


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

Under lower alert levels:

    • If you are under alert Level 2 and 3, all businesses and services are required to display the official NZ COVID Tracer QR code posters in a prominent place or near the main entrance for each business location. Because farms are businesses and are likely to have providers and visitors coming on to the property, you should display a poster under these alert levels. We recommend you weatherproof the poster too. Get your QR code poster – note you’ll need your driver licence details and your New Zealand Business Number. Please note this is a temporary system relating to COVID-19 and shouldn’t replace any existing systems on your farm.
    • Under all alert levels, farmers should be taking practical steps to protect your family, workers and others who may come onto your farm. Good hygiene, physical distancing and keeping track of people coming onto the farm are all important.
    • Be prepared – think about what you might need to do if your region or the whole country moves to a higher alert level. Review your systems and think about the services and supplies you may need, and talk to your supplier to ensure you have a plan in place in case we move to Level 4. Things could move quite quickly.