COVID-19 updates – including supply chain

// Industry

Find out what’s happening across the global supply chain, B+LNZ’s work with other industry groups to make a case for on-farm quarantining, the importance of planning ahead and of being vaccinated, and check out some handy resources.

farmer and dog on quad

Supply chain update

The following is a joint update from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

The red meat processing and exporting sector continues to be impacted by the global supply chain issues including container shortages, off schedule vessels, delayed transit times, and port productivity and these challenges are expected to continue for the next 1218 months.

There is ongoing pressure on freezer and cool store capacity. Freight rates have also risen exponentially in response to capacity constraints and shipping lines are servicing their most profitable routes where they have to make choices and dropping less profitable or non-strategic ones.

While processing delays are by no means certain, it is a good idea for farmers to be prepared and build contingencies into planning for potential processing space restrictions, particularly during peak and late season.

All industries relying on cool storage are likely to be affected, but it is particularly challenging for the red meat sector and its strong summer autumn peak, which also coincides with increasing demands from the fruit and vegetable sector.

Processors are already working hard to mitigate shortages as much as possible, by exploring all options to maximise freezer and chiller capacity including looking to liaise with sectors with different peak seasons, although this would not provide significant additional chilled resource. 

Farmers will need to think about contingencies and the knock-on effect – for example, store farmers relying on finishers who might be restricted in their rate of off-loading finished stock. Also those who might rely on off-farm grazing might find their grazier similarly affected. Thinking about all of your stock classes and the options around each class is a worthwhile exercise that could help manage processing capacity risks.

The key is planning and communication with processors and others in your supply chain.

Bringing animals forward to slaughter is also worth considering, as it could allow companies to access containers and slots that may be available earlier and otherwise could be secured by other New Zealand exporters and take potential stress points out of your farming operation.

Likewise, holding onto stock for longer may also be an option. Again, the key is having a plan, understanding the risks and returns and communicating early and keeping those lines of communication open and regular.

We will keep you updated if the situation changes.

What if COVID-19 gets onto my farm?

If you or someone on your farm tests positive for COVID-19, you may need to enter MIQ so it’s best to be prepared.

B+LNZ is part of an industry working group, including Federated Farmers, DairyNZ, Deer Industry New Zealand, and MPI, that has been putting together a case for on-farm quarantining and self-isolation, especially for sole-charge farm situations. While you may be able to apply for self-isolation on farm, and factors such as being sole-charge or geographically isolated may be taken into account, don’t assume you’ll be able to stay put in the event of a positive test. 

As this is a public health issue, any decision will be made by the local Medical Officer of Health – when making a decision they will take into account:

  • your vaccination status
  • whether you can easily isolate yourself from others at home
  • any pre-existing health issues people on farm have
  • ease of access for medical support (such as testing and detection).

It’s likely that farmers who are fully vaccinated and who can demonstrate they have a plan in place will stand a better chance of having an application for on-farm self-isolation considered.  

If you haven’t already, you should start planning ahead now. You know your farm best but if you need to call on others for help, will they know what to do across your systems, equipment and stock needs? There are some helpful tips and resources on our website at https://beeflambnz.com/news-views/coronavirus-covid-19

In the meantime, prevention remains the best defence. We recommend you ensure everyone on the farm has had the two vaccinations, maintain strict protocols to keep everyone safe and consider measures such as split shifts to maintain small separate ‘bubbles’.

The prospect of COVID-19 affecting your farming operation may be scary but don’t assume ‘she’ll be right’ and don’t put off getting tested when you’re unwell in case it’s bad news. Take proactive action so you’re best placed to deal with whatever happens. For support, talk to your neighbours and friends, and the Rural Support Trust is also available on 0800 787 254.

Info on the COVID-19 vaccine

The Rural GP Network recently held a COVID-19 vaccine information webinar to outline the science behind the vaccine and answer questions. It’s a useful resource if you or someone on your farm is hesitant about getting vaccinated. Watch the webinar here – it’s just over an hour so if you want to jump to a section that interests you, go to:

  • the seriousness of COVID-19 (5.13 mark to 9.50 mark)
  • vaccine effectiveness (9.51 to 18.39)
  • vaccine safety (18.40 to 27.40)
  • treatment vs vaccination (27.41 to 32.12)
  • preventing COVID-19 (32.13 to 35.16)
  • sources of information (35.17 to 35.50)
  • questions and answers (36.17 to 1.01.30) – includes some excellent questions.

As B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison says, it’s important all farmers get vaccinated, as he has done, to protect themselves and the supply chain – “and get back to things like in-person B+LNZ events, A&P shows and social gatherings. Farmers already understand the value of vaccinations for livestock so go and get it done for yourself."