COVID-19: Update for our farming clients
Farming is considered an essential service and is permitted to continue to operate over the lockdown period. Maintaining the supply chain is important for both New Zealand and the export market.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) requires all businesses of more than five or more people (including owners) that will continue operating during the lockdown period to register, by filling in the form here. This requirement will capture most dairy farms, and many others. Registration paperwork is to be with MPI by the end of today (Friday 27 March). We understand that dairy companies are taking different approaches – some are asking famers to register themselves, and some (Fonterra and Oceania) are registering on behalf of their famers.
If you wish to continue operating, you must:
- minimise, or eliminate if possible, physical interactions among staff;
- ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place; and
- restrict activity to only what is essential during the Alert Level 4 period.
If you have workers that live off-site, and travel to work, it is advised that you provide each worker with a letter confirming your business, its classification as an essential service, and the role of the worker. Police have indicated that people travelling during the lockdown may be stopped and questioned, and confirmation of employment in an essential service will assist.
We understand that only the essential elements of an operation are captured. Shearing (unless necessary for animal welfare), fencing and general maintenance is unlikely to meet the criteria. However, other supporting industries are deemed “essential” – vets, meat processing and any rural contractors that provide a service that cannot be deferred over the next four weeks (e.g. artificial insemination).
For more guidance on the MPI registration process, click here.
Many farming operations are subject to resource consents. For more guidance on complying with your resource consent over this period, click here.
Disclaimer: the content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.