COVID-19: 13 May 2020
To: All members of Federated Farmers
We appreciate the ongoing support of our 13,000 members. Remember we are funded from a voluntary membership so please join if you are not a member and encourage your friends and neighbours to join if you are.
We are updating our website as new information comes to light so please click COVID-19 Updates on our web page
I know that moving to Level 2 tomorrow will be a welcome relief for all of us that have been confined to quarters, so take advantage of the ability to catch up with friends and family but with great care. Hopefully, you are managing to catch up on your list of jobs that were delayed. We recognise that the drought continues to bite – so use your renewed freedom and reach out to those undergoing the added stress of drought.
Table of contents:
- International ewe pregnancy scanners allowed
- Duck shooting opening Saturday 23 May
- Extra help with feed
- Stay up to date with Moving Day
- Moving Day - Cook Strait Ferries are Full
- Working on Tenancy Challenges
- Small Business Cash Flow Loan - Update
- Farming now eligible for Business Finance Guarantee Scheme
- You can now see our legal vlogs on our website
1. International ewe pregnancy scanners allowed into NZ
Federated Farmers is pleased the Government has indicated there will be an exemption for some international people employed to pregnancy scan ewes to enter New Zealand, pending quarantine and travel requirements.
The New Zealand border is closed to all but New Zealand citizens and residents but Immigration NZ has the power to make exemptions for some essential services. Some parts of New Zealand are heavily reliant on experienced overseas contractors to help with the busy ewe pregnancy scanning period through the winter months.
Federated Farmers and Beef+LambNZ have been signalling strongly to both MPI and Immigration NZ that the shortfall of scanners will mean some farmers will miss the critical window for pregnancy scanning, putting the welfare of animals and the economic viability of sheep and beef farms for next season at risk. With many farms short of feed as we enter the winter and farmers have made a big effort to get ewes up to mating weights, scanning will be more critical this season than ever.
While this is a limited exemption for a specialised service, Federated Farmers considers this the first signal that there may be hope for those skilled farm staff stranded overseas by the current border restrictions. We will continue working behind the scenes on your behalf.
2. Duck shooting opening Saturday 23 May
Fish and Game have announced that the opening weekend of the gamebird season will now be Saturday 23 May for 2020. This is the second weekend at Level 2, allowing hunters to prepare Maimais and buy equipment this weekend in preparation to shoot on the following Saturday. Because of the delayed start, the season has been extended by several weeks in most regions. The delay of duck shooting was deliberate to allow for the social interaction which makes the weekend so enjoyable but there are some important new health and safety considerations.
Farms have been at a real advantage during the lockdown period with the geographical isolation helping to keep rural people safe from COVID-19, we don’t want to jeopardize that now. For hunters visiting your property things will be largely as normal, but there are some important COVID-19 rules that need to be considered:
- Hunters can now travel nationally and stay overnight
- Hunters can now use motorised off-road vehicles and boats to access hunting spots
- Landowners should keep a record of everyone who comes to hunt on the farm and maintain social distancing from any people you don't know
- Hunting groups are restricted to 10 people but the smaller the group the better
- Hunters should avoid sharing high-risk items such as duck callers, cups and eating utensils with other people
- If your visitors are sick or have any symptoms as minor as a runny nose tell them to stay home.
- For more information on the new season length and other regulation changes check the Fish and Game website.
3. Extra help with feed
Feed Coordinators have been appointed to match willing buyers with willing sellers of feed. This service connects farmers with pockets of feed they may not have been aware of.
Those needing feed need to be aware that:
- There is limited to no baleage or hay available to purchase in a lot of areas.
- We recommend you use the 0800 Feed Management service or develop a feed plan with a trusted advisor first to get help in working out how you will use other products like grain or maize stubble hay to supplement existing feed.
- If you do need to purchase feed, have completed your feed plan and would like to register with the feed coordinators, please click here.
If you have feed to sell or donate, you can either register it here
with the feed coordination service or if you want the best opportunity to sell it, use the free noticeboard being provided by AgriHQ here
To get help putting together a feed plan call 0800 4 DairyNZ and 0800 BEEF LAMB and they will connect you with the right person. Even if you already have a plan, we recommend using this service as a sounding board. The consultants all have experience in drought and drought recovery and might be able to come up with some new strategies for you going forward.
MPI has also put together some resources on getting through drought feed shortages, you can find this here
4. Stay up to date with Moving Day
Over the last six weeks, Federated Farmers has been working with DairyNZ, FMG and Fonterra to ensure Moving Day could be enabled under the different Covid-19 restriction levels. DairyNZ has now produced a Moving Day toolkit to assist those moving to new farms, with helpful tips on moving animals, people, farm and household items. To view the toolkit please click here
5. Moving Day - Cook Strait Ferries are Full
Good to see that you have all booked your vehicles for the end of the month as vehicle space is fully booked for the days around Moving Day.
6. Working on Tenancy Challenges
We recognise that some of you are, unfortunately, having difficulties with employees/contractors in on-farm accommodation, and the need to vacate tenancies so you can get the accommodation ready for new employees or contractors.
The Government’s response to COVID-19 significantly reduced the rights of landlords to require tenants to move out during lockdown. A Federated Farmers/DairyNZ request to the Associate Minister of Housing is seeking an exemption for farmers with tenants on-farm, where the tenancy is needed for an incoming employee or contractor.
This is currently being considered. In the meantime, the best option currently available is to work with the current resident to encourage them to vacate. We appreciate this is not practical in many circumstances.
To be clear, under Alert Level 3, and even more so under Alert Level 2, people can now shift houses including through use of moving companies.
We will update you as soon as we have an answer from the Minister
7. Small Business Cash Flow Loan – Open for Applications
Inland Revenue has released further information on the Small Business Cashflow Scheme (SCBS) to support SME businesses and organisations struggling because of loss of revenue as a result of COVID-19. Applications are open from 12 May 2020 to 12 June 2020.
- To be eligible for the SCBS loan a business or organisation must have 50 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees and be eligible for the Wage Subsidy Scheme. They must also have a sound plan to be viable and ongoing and hold information on file to verify this.
- Applications will be open from 12 May 2020 up to and including 12 June 2020. Most will receive funds within five working days.
- IRD will administer the payments and repayments of this scheme. Businesses should speak with their financial advisors before taking this loan.
- The loan has a five-year term and must be repaid by 31 July 2025.
- The annual interest rate will be 3% beginning from the date of the loan being provided. Interest will not be charged if the loan is fully paid back within one year. Repayments are not compulsory in the first 24 months.
- In most cases, businesses will be entitled to a loan amount of $10,000 plus $1,800 per full-time-equivalent employee, to a maximum of $100,000.
Further details of the new Small Business Cashflow (loan) Scheme administering by Inland Revenue is available on their website here
8. Farming now eligible for Business Finance Guarantee Scheme
We can now confirm that farming has been made eligible for the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme. When it was announced in March, the Scheme specifically excluded agriculture (except for horticulture, viticulture, aquaculture, and services to agriculture).
After we called this into question the Government decided to extend its eligibility to all agriculture.
The Crown, in partnership with participating approved banks, will support targeted new loans (including increases to existing limits) to eligible businesses, as a response to difficulties caused by COVID-19. The Government is guaranteeing 80% of the risk, while the banks are covering the remaining 20%. A normal lending process will be followed by the banks, which will make the lending decisions based. Borrowers are still liable and must pay the debt back, with interest, in the usual way.
Further details can be found on the banks' websites and from here
9. You can now see our legal vlogs on our website
We have asked our legal partners, Norris Ward McKinnon, to produce legal opinion and comments on important issues potentially impacting farmers. We have had such a positive response to our legal series of vlogs covering all those topical issues, we have now made these easily accessible from our website. We will add to this library (in addition to our Facebook page) as new vlogs become available. Click Here
GM Policy & Advocacy
Federated Farmers of NZ