Beef + Lamb New Zealand has partnered with other agriculture sector bodies to produce a checklist for farmers to help prepare for COVID-19 – and this can be used to provide evidence to a Medical Officer of Health making a decision about whether you can safely stay on farm in the event of a case of COVID-19.
B+LNZ’s Will Halliday, who was part of the sector working group that developed the checklist and has worked with the Government on ways farmers will be able to stay on-farm, says it’s understandable farmers don’t want to have to leave their farms for MIQ.
“Shifting a farmer off their farm and into MIQ will have significant consequences in terms of day-to-day livestock care and key decision-making capability.
“However, this is first and foremost a public health issue. It’s bigger than any one farming operation and that’s why being prepared is so important.
“It’s critically important to New Zealand that we preserve the supply chain for agricultural products – which includes farmers, support services such as livestock agents, contractors, and vets, and processors and exporters.
“In the event of a positive case of COVID-19 the local DHB’s Medical Officer of Health will determine whether the person can isolate on farm or should be moved to an isolation facility or hospital. The two main things they’ll take into account are whether that person is fully vaccinated and if there’s a plan to place to ensure proper hygiene, social distancing, and a minimised risk of transmission.
“Ask yourself: what systems do I have in place to ensure the smooth operation of my farm if I or someone in my team is a close contact or tests positive for the virus? If you haven’t already, go through the checklist with your farm staff and make sure those important on-farm tasks required to maintain animal health, welfare, and overall farm productivity are covered.”
The checklist is organised into four sections:
1) About your farm – how does your farm work?
- This includes information such as key contacts, how does the water system work, and the location of important feed supplies and medicines.
2) COVID-19 on farm – the next 14-21 days
- What planned activities are due to take place e.g. drenching, shearing, animal movements.
3) Information for the Medical Officer of Health
- This is critical for determining whether you may be able to isolate on farm.
4) Personal wellbeing
- How can you best look after yourself if you have to isolate?
The checklist will help you prepare for every eventuality – including the possibility of having to leave the farm for 14-21 days.
B+LNZ would like to acknowledge the contributions of our sector partners in the development of the checklist, namely Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Deer Industry NZ, NZ Pork, Poultry Industry Association of NZ, Egg Producers Federation of NZ, and MPI.
All of our information regarding COVID-19 can be found here and hard copies of the checklist are available at rural supply stores.
More info on the new traffic light system
New Zealand has (as of 11.59pm Thursday 2 December) moved to the traffic light system. This is a new flexible three-level approach to managing COVID-19 in the community. There’s more information about the new system on the COVID-19 website.
While most of your day-to-day farming operations will remain the same as under the alert level system, important things for farmers to know about the new system are being brought together on the Ministry for Primary Industries website, particularly in this handy resource – information such as:
- While widespread vaccination and the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) will provide increased freedoms for the community and opportunities for businesses, it’s likely there will be more COVID-19 cases in the community, and this increases the likelihood of positive cases occurring in primary sector businesses. Vaccination therefore remains a key defence, as does having good control measures in place. (See our website for practical resources to help with this)
- 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.
- 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 – to find out more about requirements, check out the info on page 22 of this MPI resource.
- For those travelling in and out of Auckland, there will no longer be a need for the essential worker category. From 15 December, people travelling out of Auckland will have to be either fully vaccinated or have a negative test within 72 hours of departure. (This requirement will be in place 15 December 2021 to 17 January 2022).
Note that 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. We’re finalising our policy for all B+LNZ events under the traffic light system but there will be changes to how we run events.
Please check the relevant event page online – and keep an eye on your emails for updates on events you’ve registered for. This is a new and fluid situation, so we appreciate your patience with any changes while we too adjust to the new requirements. Our priority will remain keeping our people and farmers safe.
For all COVID-19 related information we’ll keep B+LNZ’s COVID-19 webpage and our regional Facebook pages updated.