Member Advisory

COVID-19: 6 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.

Table of contents:

  1. Extension of expired firearms licences while under COVID-19 restrictions
  2. Temporary Immigration Changes Update
  3. Moving Day update
  4. Reminder – make sure you have all your bookings in place for Moving day
  5. Moving farm or herd? Call OSPRI to ensure your NAIT account and TBfree herd records are up to date
  6. Interest-Free Loan Scheme extended to all businesses – apply from 12 May


1. Extension of expired firearms licences while under COVID-19 restrictions

There is currently a hold on firearms licence processing by Police because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The COVID-19 Response Legislation Bill announced today includes proposed changes to the Arms Act to allow a temporary extension to existing firearms licences which have, or are due to, expire while the COVID restrictions are in place.

The proposed extensions are:
  1. If a licence expired on or before 24 March 2020 and a new licence was applied for before the expiry date, the licence will be extended for 12 months from the original expiry date or until the renewal application is processed.
  2. If a licence expires between 25 March 2020 and 25 September 2020, the licence will be valid for another four months after the expiry date.
  3. If you apply to renew a licence in that extended period, the current licence will be valid for 12 months after the original expiry date or until the renewal application is processed.
Subject to Parliamentary approval, the proposed changes are expected to take effect from mid-May. As soon as processing begins, applications will be considered on a case by case basis with priority given to employment-related firearms applications such as being a farmer.


2. Temporary Immigration Changes Update

The government is temporarily amending immigration law in response to Covid-19. It will introduce a bill to Parliament on Tuesday, to support a number of visa changes. Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ have written to Immigration NZ and MPI asking for a number of changes to current visa conditions, including extensions for existing visa holders who are already in the country working. We will be working hard to ensure that the Bill not only enables the changes we requested to be made but also that the changes are made once the Bill is passed.

The bill introduces eight powers which will allow the Government to:
  • Impose, vary or cancel conditions for classes of temporary-entry visa holders
  • Vary or cancel conditions for classes of resident-class visa holders
  • Extend the expiry dates of visas for classes of people
  • Grant visas to individuals and classes of people in the absence of an application
  • Waive any regulatory requirements for certain classes of application
  • Waive the requirement to obtain a transit visa
  • Suspend the ability to make applications for visas or submit expressions of interest in applying for visas by classes of people
  • Revoke the entry permission of people who arrive either on private aircraft or marine vessels (people who arrive on commercial flights can already be refused entry)
Because the intention of these changes is to assist with the COVID-19 response, if put in place these powers will expire after 12 months.


3. Moving Day Update

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has given the “green light” for Moving Day to proceed. However, Moving Day will be much different from previous years as everyone involved will need to follow COVID-safe protocols and principles to prevent the unnecessary spread of COVID 19. Federated Farmers is in the process of developed a Fact Sheet which will provide a quick overview of some of the COVID-safe protocols. Our Fact Sheet will be available from Friday (8 May) once we have a better idea of what Alert Level 2 will look like after details are revealed on Thursday 7 May.


4. Moving Day – Make sure your bookings are secure

A reminder to secure your bookings for Moving Day – particularly if you are going across the cook strait as sailings are limited. At this stage, there are only 2 return sailings per day between Bluebridge and the Interislander around Moving day.


5. Moving farm or herd? Call OSPRI to ensure your NAIT account and TBfree herd records are up to date

To help ease the load on farmers who are moving farm or moving the herd, OSPRI has published a moving day checklist guide and tips.

Farmers are encouraged to check out OSPRI’s website for more tips on Moving Day:

6. Interest-Free Loan Scheme for SMEs – apply from 12 May

The Government will provide interest-free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic shock to support their immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs.

The Minister of Finance and Minister of Revenue say the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme will provide assistance of up to $100,000 to firms employing 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. The scheme will provide $10,000 to every firm and in addition $1,800 per equivalent full time employee. The eligibility criteria are the same as for the Wage Subsidy Scheme. Businesses will also have to declare that they are a viable business, they will use the money for core business operating costs and enter into a legally binding loan contract.

Loans will be interest-free if they are paid back within a year. The interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years.

Applications will open on the 12th of May and be managed by Inland Revenue.

After Federated Farmers questioned why farmers were specifically excluded, the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme has been amended to extend eligibility to farmers. Under this scheme, businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million can apply to their banks for loans up to $500,000, for up to three years. Farmers interested in the Scheme it should contact their bank.
Refer to Media Release here
Refer to Government information here


Gavin Forrest
GM Policy & Advocacy
Federated Farmers of NZ