Farming input critical in future pandemic decisions

// Industry

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into COVID-19 Lessons Learned is seeking public feedback. B+LNZ outlined farmers’ issues as part of a pan-sector group in 2023 but it’s important farmers have an opportunity to tell their stories to aid decision-making in future adverse events.

image of gumboots

The inquiry is looking at the impacts of New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and the lessons that can be learnt for the future.  

While the pandemic was several years ago, it’s important that farmers who were impacted by decisions reflect on what happened and what would have worked better, and that the inquiry hears from those farmers.  

At the time, B+LNZ heard from many concerned farmers impacted by issues such as: 

  • mixed messaging from different sources of information 
  • the definition of who is a ‘critical worker’ 
  • access to services such as veterinarians, transporters, mechanics 
  • problems getting to or moving stock across regional alert-level borders 
  • unclear and confusing requirements around documentation required at alert-level borders 
  • inconsistent application of the rules at alert-level borders. 

B+LNZ attended earlier hearings of the inquiry as part of a pan-sector working group. B+LNZ’s Biosecurity & Animal Welfare Senior Advisor Will Halliday took feedback from farmers and staff to the inquiry. 

“We were clear that while we understood it was a rapidly evolving situation, our sector would have benefitted from more input into decisions that were being made at the top table.  

“If officials had understood the realities of farmers needing to do things like cross alert-level borders to check on stock welfare they may have designed or implemented some of the rules slightly differently.  

“We didn’t have much time to feed into processes while it was all happening but the inquiry gives us a chance to say ‘here are some things we’d like to be considered in future’, now we have time to reflect and plan.” 

Will encourages farmers to make a submission to the inquiry if they were impacted. “It’s important we learn from the experience of the COVID-19 response so we’re better placed to deal with future adverse events.” 

There’s a dedicated online submission website – – to capture New Zealanders’ experience of the pandemic. Submissions close on Sunday 24 March.