Member Advisory

How to keep safe and legally operate your farm and orchard while in national lockdown

March 24, 2020

Farming and the growing of food, production, transport, processing and sale of food and beverage is recognised as an essential service. This includes the provision of services essential to farmers and growers operating their businesses. Please don't treat this like a normal day on-farm, essential jobs only, our health system will come under pressure and it doesn't need to deal with work-related accidents. Be good buggers and just do only what you have to do.

Free Registration Process

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has set up a register for safe practice in the sector as New Zealand moves to National Alert Level Four in response to COVID-19. All business (that includes farmers) with more than five (5) people [including the owner(s)]operating per business site are required to register with MPI and demonstrate how they will operate a safe workplace. Refer

Key Questions

Do you have 5 or fewer people (including the owner) working at each business site?
  • Can you achieve social distancing measures between staff in your workplace, including travelling, to and from work?
  • If you answer YES to both of those questions, then you do not need to register and do not need to fill in the form.
IF NO you will need to register by the end of this week (by end of Friday 27 March )

You will be required to answer a small number of questions.

If you can’t access or fill out the form, have questions or require further details on registering or the registration process. please contact MPI at 0800 00 83 33 or

If in doubt Register!

What is a business site

While not defined we suggest that if you have more than one farm where people work or different operations on the same property to seek to isolate them from each other.

WHAT is your NZBN number

Easy for those with internet access – go to and type in your business name in the search bar (it worked for me)

“Registered businesses have been automatically assigned an NZBN. Sole traders, partnerships and trusts can apply to get one via this website”

If you don’t have an NZBN you will also need to Create a “RealMe” login (yep another log in to remember) You will need your IRD Number and other documentation to verify who you are.

For sole traders and partnerships, you will need a driver licence or passport -to enter details.

Physical Distancing

All workplaces are required distancing of at least 2 metres between staff at each business site can be achieved—including travelling, to and from work. Production chains must achieve these limits of separation. (Those with 5 (five) or fewer people working on a business site must register if they cannot ensure these social distances can be maintained)

What services are essential?:

These include:
  • Livestock and primary produce transporters
  • Veterinary service providers
  • Feed/Fodder transporters
  • Feed and supplement manufacturers, processors, suppliers and stores
  • Manufacturers and distributors of animal medicines
  • Pet shops and services
  • Animal control
  • Workers caring for animals in containment
  • Rural contractors who are providing essential services that cannot be deferred over the next four weeks, especially for animal welfare purposes: (artificial insemination technicians; stock agents managing and directing stock movements; winter re-grassing for feed; fertiliser supply and application; shearing where necessary for animal welfare)
  • Fertiliser manufacture and distribution

Contractors coming onto the farm

In most situations it is much easier for you to keep your distance – 2 metres will be easy – 200 metres even better.
Contractors should be able to arrive on their own, do the job without you being close and leave without contact – use the phone to give instructions or yell.

At this stage, individual shearing contractors are in the process of registering, In any event, disinfect your woolshed before they arrive each day and make sure you and your staff keep well aware from the shearers and shed hands while they are on the farm.

Sale Yards will not be operating over the shutdown period – sales via internet platforms or good old fashioned phone calls.

The Fencing Contractors Association has stated that do not consider themselves an essential service.

Above all

Keep safe and keep clear.

Make sure everybody in your and your employees’ house keeps a 2-metre distance from others as much as possible.

More information see the below titles on the Coronavirus Information page here :
  • 2020 COVID-19 Key Services
  • NZSCA COVID-19 Plan 2020