Member Advisory

COVID-19: 8 May 2020


Table of contents:

  1. Moving Day Fact Sheet on our website
  2. Immigration NZ Frequently Asked Questions
  3. On-farm tenancies
  4. Extra help with feed
  5. Ongoing Farm Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19
  6. How are you Doing? – Survey Results


1. Moving Day fact sheet on our website

Federated Farmers has developed a fact sheet with all the key dos and don’ts for Moving Day. All those who are involved with Moving Day activities please have a look and think about how you could protect you, your family and staff and contractors helping you out, from COVID-19 on Moving Day. If you haven’t already, Federated Farmers urges any farmers who may be moving from the North Island to the South Island (and vice versa) to contact your preferred Cook Strait provider (Interislander or Bluebridge) to ensure you are booked. For more information on Moving Day please visit our website here or on DairyNZ’s website here.

If you have any comments or concerns regarding Moving Day, please email Philippa Rawlinson


2. Immigration NZ Frequently Asked Questions

Immigration NZ have put together some Frequently Asked Questions that include a range of common issues that Feds and Dairy NZ put forward from the farming community. This covers scenarios such as current and pending employees that are unable to cross the border, the future recruitment of new migrant workers and variation of visa conditions. Federated Farmers has covered a number of these issues in our previous FAQ, but you can read the official Immigration NZ response on our COVID page under the Immigration Links here (see under the Immigration heading).


3. On-farm tenancies

A number of farmers have contacted us with concerns around the restrictions placed on landowners as a result of the government’s response to COVID-19. Concerns include the inability to shift existing tenants on, particularly the inability for landlords (apart from a limited number of circumstances) to end tenancies until 26 June even if they have previously received notices to end their tenancies.

Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis has written to Ministers seeking a process where farmers can apply for an exemption to these rules, highlighting the link between employment and on-farm tenancies, and the issues for incoming employees or contractors if they are not able to shift. Until we hear back from Ministers, it is important you’re aware of your obligations, which we’ve outlined in a ‘COVID-19 - Moving and Tenancy’ fact sheet this link (under Q&A)


4. Extra help with feed

This week it was announced MPI will be bringing on board two Feed Coordinators to help match willing buyers with willing sellers. These Feed Coordinators will be joining the Feed Working Group which Federated Farmers is a core member of. The process will remain the same as the 0800 Feed Management service using the 0800 4 DairyNZ and 0800 BEEF LAMB numbers.

Callers will be strongly encouraged to have either done a feed budget/check up with the 0800 Feed Management service or already have something in place with their own consultant before being connected with a Feed Coordinator. As the feed types available are limited (baleage and hay are in incredibly short supply and may not be available), being able to identify how you are going to complement limited grass, silage and baleage supplies with grain and other feeds you may not be familiar with will be key to making the most of this service.

There will be no free feed available on this service. If you are in a position where you can donate feed, please contact your local RST and they will work with you and an RST with an established need to connect this to those who are struggling the most. If you are financially unable to purchase any more feed, it is incredibly important you get in touch with your RST who will look at your options and support you through this incredibly tough time – as an industry we really do want to support you through so please reach out for help.

For more on getting through Feed Shortages – head to this factsheet.

To support farmers looking for feed, we need you (those with feed to sell) to be proactively listing this wherever you can so farmers can get their hands on it. This will also support efforts by the Feed Coordinators announced by MPI this week who will be looking for feed across the country to match up willing buyers and sellers who may not be looking at the same platforms.

AgriHQ has a feed noticeboard that is free to use and that the 0800 Feed Management line is actively encouraging both buyers and sellers to use. Follow this link.


5. Ongoing Farm Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19

During COVID-19 alert levels 4 and 3, farming has been privileged to continue to operate as an essential industry. As we move to lower alert levels we are still expected to have COVID-safe protocols as part of our on-farm health and safety requirements. Feds has worked with Safer Farms, Worksafe and a range of industry groups to provide ongoing guidance for farm businesses as NZ moves down through COVID Alert Levels 3, 2 and 1.

To help ensure we don’t see an increase in COVID case numbers, farms should continue with the key safety practices across the alert levels
  1. Confirm people are okay to come to work (includes people working on farm and those in supporting businesses)
  2. Ensure physical distancing at work where appropriate
  3. Maintain general hygiene, including disinfecting surfaces and maintaining good personal hygiene, particularly hand washing and cough/sneeze etiquette
  4. Keep records of who comes on farm to support contact tracing if someone gets sick. It is expected COVID-safe protocols are to be part of ongoing existing safety requirements on farm as we go down through the alert levels.
A free copy of the full Farm Business Health and Safety Protocols for COVID-19 can be downloaded from the employment section of our COVID-19 page here (see under 'Employment).

6. How are you Doing? – Survey Results

During Level 4 of the lockdown, Federated Farmers ran the ‘How are you doing? April 2020’ survey to get an overview of how the restrictions are affecting rural operations. With 686 responses, the results provide a good indication of the nature, cause and the magnitude of the backlog of tasks resulting from COVID-19 restrictions. Thank you to those that filled out the survey – the results provided useful information in our conversations with government agencies.

The most significant problem, that we are all well aware of, is the large numbers of additional stock farms are carrying due to the reduction in processing capacity. With winter fast approaching after harsh summer conditions for many, which still persist for many areas, the lack of feed and inability to get stock off farm has been compounded by the lockdown restrictions. Cull cows are the most notable additional stock class on farms, with an estimated maximum of 14,400 needing to be processed. Prime beef and Store lambs were the other most notable animal classes that needed to be moved.

58% of respondents wanting to offload stock indicated that they would have to wait for 3 weeks or longer. An analysis of farmers access to products and services including machinery repairs, contractors and additional staff, among others, was also undertaken.

A large range of both numerical and spatial data was able to be gleaned from the survey, - the summary and table excess stock on hand are here (under 'How are we doing survey').