Advice for farms and agriculture businesses in Level 4
Certain steps should be made to protect workers on farms.
On this page:
- Work MPI is doing for farmers and agriculture
- Help available for farmers
- If an employee has COVID-19
- Transporting stock
- Meat works
- Caring for farm animals
- Lifestyle blocks
MPI and other primary sector organisations are encouraging those working in the primary sector to ensure they have plans in place to ensure continuity for their business activities.
Farming and growing operations differ greatly across the country and may have specific needs. Backup planning is key.
For information about continuity, animal welfare and labour needs, farmers should talk to their key sector groups, including Rural Support Trusts, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, their dairy company or co-op, NZ Pork, and Federated Farmers.
If you are able to shear or crutch your own sheep, this is preferable. Shearing is considered an essential service only where it is necessary for animal welfare and it cannot be deferred, or if it's undertaken to enable hygienic processing of the sheep. This means you can only provide shearing or crutching services if it is likely the sheep would suffer pain or distress otherwise, and when they are due to go for slaughter.
If you need to use a shearing contractor, they must operate in a way that minimises the risk of COVID-19 transmission, i.e.:
- minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff and with and between customers
- ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place, including a wearing mask.
Check advice from your levy body or membership association.
If an employee, customer, or visitor becomes a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case, and has been at your workplace while potentially infectious, there are standard processes that will be followed.
Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are known as cases and will be directly managed by a local public health unit.
Remember, at any time, an employee who feels unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 should be encouraged to go home and to seek help by calling their GP (doctor) or call Healthline for free, on 0800 35 85 453.
Moving stock around your own property is fine, as long as you make sure to take necessary precautions to ensure your health and safety.
Transporting or droving stock between my main farm and my run-off, or transporting my own stock
Farming is considered an Alert Level 4 Business and Service and the needs of your stock must be met. If you need to transport stock to your run-off to keep them fed and healthy then you may do this. As droving a long distance may take many days, it may be better to arrange transport with your local stock carrier.
Transport arrangements with your local stock carrier must allow for no direct contact between people. Talk to your transporter about the protocols they have in place for staff, owner and animals.
The important thing is to retain a physical distance from other people, wear a mask and practice good hygiene practices, such as hand washing.
We recognise that farmers may need to sell stock during Alert Level 4.
Sale yards in areas under Alert Level 4 restrictions will be closed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect New Zealanders. Farmers will need to look at alternative means of selling, such as online and paddock sales.
Paddock sales require the presence of stock agents to facilitate the sales.
Transport of animals between properties, or between farm and slaughter plant, can be arranged with your local stock carrier. Talk to your transporter about the protocols they have in place for staff, owner and animals.
Meat works are a key part of New Zealand’s infrastructure. These provide food for New Zealanders and ensure we can supply food to our trading partners, who send vital materials to us.
Farmers, who work on a seasonal basis, need meat works to ensure the continuity of their businesses and livelihoods.
Workplaces in the food chain, including meat works, already have very strict hygiene and work practices in place to ensure safe production.
Travelling to work at Alert Level 4
If your employees need to go into the premises or work on site, they can use public transport to commute.
Employees may be asked to show who they work for so they can prove they have a reason to travel. We recommend you provide your employees with a letter to confirm who they are, and their role.
Everyone legally must wear a face covering on all public transport, unless they have an exemption.
If you are a business that requires travel across the alert level boundary for work, information about permitted travel, the Business Travel Register, and exemptions is available on MBIE’s website.
The Business Travel Register will generate Business Travel Documents for workers to display at checkpoints. This includes a QR code, which enables Police at the cordon to verify the document digitally against the travel register.
It’s important to note that you cannot use the same travel documentation used during previous alert level events and must apply again.
For information about testing of essential workers crossing the Alert Level boundary, visit the COVID-19 website.
Businesses and workers need to continue to comply with the Government’s COVID-19 alert level settings and observe any protocols for their particular industry.
Currently there is no evidence that pets or livestock can spread COVID-19.
Other important information about caring for farm animals:
- We help co-ordinate animal welfare services if needed for affected animals or their owners.
- If you have questions about animal welfare, visit the COVID-19 Animal welfare page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- We are closely monitoring animal welfare with sector organisations and helping co-ordinate feed and water.
- We have been talking to meat companies to help ensure there is capacity at the works for farmers wanting to destock.
Disposing of dead stock
Decomposing animals can be a source of disease and can lead to water contamination. Where dead animals are not removed, they may pose a health risk to live animals if access cannot be prevented.
The disposal of dead stock on farms in New Zealand is regulated at the local government level. You should contact your local council in the first instance to find out what rules apply. They may also have put in place restrictions during Alert Level 4.
Most councils generally allow stock to be buried, incinerated, composted or placed in an offal pit on farm. The recommendation is to dispose of them quickly and not to leave them near the roadside or bury them near water sources.
If you are unable to deal with the carcass yourself, you may be able to call in a support service to help deal with the animal on farm. You will have to ensure you follow health and safety measures by distancing yourself from anyone coming onto your property, wear a mask and wipe down any surfaces they may come in contact with.
Feeding animals grazing away from property
Travel to care for your animals is also allowed, if there is no alternative and you are complying with any region-specific travel measures. This includes providing your animals with food, water and any other aspect that you need to provide to meet your responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act and relevant codes of welfare.
If you do leave your house to attend to your animals, take the necessary health measures, travel in your private vehicle, with other members of your self-isolation group (or ‘social bubble’) only, and keep a keep a log of your travel for contact tracing purposes.
Rural supply store feed for lifestylers/small block holders
Rural supply stores are essential businesses and may continue operating subject to certain conditions. Customers are not permitted into the store at all. You will need to contact your supplier by phone or email to see how they are taking orders, for example – over the phone, online ordering. You will also need to confirm with them how to pay for your order and how it will get to you (pick-up or delivery) – this all needs to be contactless.