For any questions
If you need help now, phone Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254.
As the situation changes, we will adapt our delivery to farmers, update this page and post information on DairyNZ's social media pages.
See a 10 point plan covering what to do this week here.
What you need to know about COVID-19
Everything you need to know about the virus, how it passes person to person and what to do to reduce the risk of getting infected, you can find here.
Dairy farming as an essential service
We have confirmation from the Government that farming is considered an essential service. Further specifics about that will be released later tonight, and tomorrow, and we will post any new information on this page.
We’re getting a few questions about the classification of some of the services needed to support production of food, such as seed, fertiliser, animal feed etc. At this stage we understand these will likely be regarded as essential but detail on the many types of providers to farmers will be worked on by government and released in the next few days. See the current list of essential services.
Do you have more than 5 people?
Please note: Dairy companies are taking different approaches - we understand some are asking farmers to register themselves, and some (Fonterra and Oceania) are registering on behalf of their farmers. Best to check with your company about their approach if you are not clear. If in doubt, register.
Registration with MPI required by 5pm Friday 27 March 2020
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) advise they are now requiring all farmers with more than five people (including the owner) working at each business site, to register with them and answer 11 questions about how you intend to stop any spread of COVID-19. This is to provide assurances that your processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.
For more information and to register click here.
The New Zealand Government’s epidemic management notice relating to immigration matters comes into effect on Thursday 2 April 2020.
People with a work, student, or visitor visa with an expiry date of 1 April 2020 or earlier and who are unable to leave New Zealand must apply online for a new visa. An interim visa will be issued.
People with a work, student, visitor, limited or interim visa with an expiry date of 2 April to 9 July 2020 inclusive who are in New Zealand on 2 April 2020 will have their visas extended to 25 September 2020. Confirmation of extensions will be emailed to all visa holders.
You can find your visa expiry date in your eVisa letter.
For more COVID-19-related updates from Immigration click here.
The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and event attendees is our highest priority, and from Monday 23 March, DairyNZ will not be offering face-to-face group events in the upcoming weeks. We'll re-assess the situation in a months time and let you know if that changes.
We will be increasing other ways of keeping farmers connected and supported over the coming weeks, such as webinars, social media, and online discussion groups.
Your local consulting officer continues to be available by phone.
Find contact details for the DairyNZ consulting officer in your area here.
Your responsibility as an employer
Federated Farmers have prepared a helpful factsheet on farmer employer responsibilities, including what to do if your employee is sick or is required to self-isolate. Download factsheet.
Authorising letter for employees and contractors travelling to/from your farm
Your employees, and contractors such as sharemilkers, contract milkers and other independent contractors working for you need to carry with them a letter, authorising their travel to work at an essential service. They will also need to carry identification such as a driver's licence.
Here's a handy template to produce letters for your team. Download here.
What does self-isolation mean in practice on a farm?
The Ministry of Health (MOH) says that the purpose of self-isolation is to maintain physical distance between people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and others who may not have.
Where self-isolation is required, people - including those living and working on farms - should take steps to avoid close contact with others.
- Talk as a team about how you can achieve this purpose – what are others’ concerns? How will you maintain the necessary hygiene in this situation?
- Together, come up with that list of jobs you haven’t been able to get to yet, e.g. dealing with weeds, sorting out the power supply on that dodgy fenceline, painting the chemical shed, maybe even getting ahead of the game with cleaning out calf sheds for next season
- Check in frequently that no new concerns have arisen for your team, and see how it is working in practice.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate
Further guidelines from Ministry of Health
What does COVID-19 mean for farmers and their workers with regard to hygiene?
Farmers and their workers should follow the advice of the Ministry of Health with regard to keeping good hygiene standards, including washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes
Please visit the Ministry of Health advice here.
Currently there is no evidence animals (pets or livestock) can spread COVID-19. It is unlikely that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, and there isn’t evidence to date of this happening.
What precautions should farmers take if staff are ill?
Like other businesses, farmers should ensure staff who are ill with COVID-like symptoms do not work. Report the situation to the Healthline or local GP. Please telephone – do not arrive in person. Self-isolation should take place or be continued.
Please see the advice here.
What if one of my farm workers is diagnosed with coronavirus?
As above, that person should seek medical help where required and be registered with the local GP and/or Healthline. They should be kept away from other farm workers.
What help is available for farmers?
The Government has launched a wage subsidy and leave payment scheme to help employers. Please see information here.
For information regarding continuity, animal welfare and labour needs farmers should talk to their key sector groups, including RSTs, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb NZ, their dairy company or co-op and Federated Farmers.
MPI is closely monitoring farmer welfare through its response to dry conditions around the country and the COVID-19 response. Animal welfare is also closely being monitored through the drought response. MPI is talking regularly to sector leaders about how best to meet farmer needs.
Supporting your farm team
In this time of uncertainty, it’s a good idea to check in frequently with your team – and even your neighbours and community - and understand the questions they have about the effects of COVID-19 and its potential impact on your farm.
If you have employees from overseas who may normally be planning a trip home, think through implications of travel restrictions and how you may be able to support them to keep in touch with family remotely.
How are you set up as things evolve?
Don’t forget about your networks of farming colleagues and friends - it might be useful to talk through how you might support each other in different scenarios. Keep up to date with developments and advice from the Ministry of Health.