COVID-19 is classified as a notifiable disease, and under the NZCP1 regulation it can have significant impacts on your milk processor’s ability to collect your milk.
We encourage farmers to prepare themselves for cases on farm using our Business Continuity Plan templates, which will put a plan in place to ensure operations continue without significant setbacks.
While preparation is key in reducing the impact that COVID-19 can have on farm operations, it is important that farmers know the steps to take once they identify a positive case on farm.
Process map for a positive COVID-19 case on a dairy farm
People who are only considered close, casual or secondary contacts who have milked will be able to have their milk collected but should still follow isolation & hygiene protocols and contact their milk processor so they can take necessary precautions.
COVID-19 is not a food safety concern. There is general consensus that the risk of COVID-19 transmission by food or food packaging is negligible. Nonetheless, dairy companies do need farmer support to manage Health and Safety considerations for tanker drivers, and to ensure ongoing compliance with other relevant regulations, where there are COVID-19 positive cases on farm.
It is important that farmers can plan ahead for the next 14-21 days upon finding a positive COVID-19 case on farm. We encourage you to use this Checklist for when COVID-19 is on farm to ensure operations continue as normal.
If someone on farm has COVID-19
- If you, a member of your family, or a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, or is a close contact of a confirmed case, you should follow the advice of the Ministry of Health.
- If you are a COVID-19 positive case, you’ll receive instructions and advice directly from a public health official which is specific to your individual situation and according to your needs. Further guidance can be found here.
- Further guidance for workplaces that have a case of COVID-19 can be found here.
- Information on self-isolation and quarantine on-farm is available here.
- COVID is a notifiable disease and the New Zealand Code of Practice 1 Design and Operation of Farm Dairies requires that people with such illnesses must not work in the farm dairy. Records of such illnesses, including dates must be kept.
- Contact your dairy company immediately so that appropriate control measures are put in place, and to manage the risk to tanker drivers and others.
- This means the unwell person is likely to be on sick leave, but other options are available. It is possible you may be able to access a wage subsidy to assist with this. Read more about these options here.
- You are able to talk to other staff members about the positive test result but avoid discrimination. Find out more about your obligations here. For any employment questions, visit Federated Farmers here.
- If the person unwell is self-isolating ensure support is available, for example, that they have enough food, fluids, and any medication they may need. Visitors should not go to the house, but it is okay for friends, family, whānau or delivery drivers to drop off food and supplies at the door.
- Keep checking in, by telephone, on any staff member who is self-isolating about both their physical and mental health.
Getting tested for COVID-19
If you have any COVID-19 symptoms or if you have been to locations of interest at the date and times specified you should isolate yourself from others and call Healthline 0800 358 5453 (more info here). Essential workers can identify themselves when you call Healthline and your testing will be prioritised.
Border workers now have the choice to provide saliva as a sample for surveillance testing for COVID-19 rather than undertake a nasal swab. See Saliva testing border workers. And they can book in the saliva test here. To register the essential worker will need to have their NHI number – they can find this on places such as their prescriptions, hospital letters or by calling the Ministry of health 0800 855 066.
How to protect other people on-farm
- Health officials will also contact the workplace to discuss what this situation means for your workers.
- Close contacts are required to self-isolate, i.e. everybody the unwell person lives with must stay at home. Read more about this here.
- You are able to talk to other staff members about the positive test result but no discrimination is allowed. Find out more about your obligations here. For any employment questions, visit Federated Farmers link here.
For more info
- DairyNZ COVID page
- Mental Wellbeing For You & Your Workplace - Mentemia
- Federated Farmers' COVID page
- Ministry of Health website
- Unite against COVID-19 (covid19.govt.nz)