Moving Day will go ahead under any Covid-19 alert level, according to Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.
Damien, who made the announcement on April 22, describes the June 1 tradition, where farmers move at the beginning of the dairy season to start new contracts, as “vital”.
“This annual movement is a critical part of the dairy industry – an industry that contributes more than $18 billion per year in exports to our economy, and provides jobs for around 46,000 people in our rural communities,” says the Minister.
“Since the Alert Level 4 lockdown was announced, and dairy farming was deemed an essential service, the Government has been committed to finding a way to enable it to proceed.”
The Minister says his government has been working with sector leaders from organisations including DairyNZ, Fonterra, Federated Farmers and FMG to find solutions that work for those in the sector and protect the economy, without jeopardising anyone’s health and safety.
“MPI then worked with the Ministry of Health and MBIE and found solutions that allow Moving Day to proceed under any alert level.”
Who is allowed to assist with the move depends on what alert level the country is in come June 1.
In Alert Level 3 and 4, DairyNZ advised that farmers would only be able rely on their bubble and businesses with formal health and safety regulations, such as movers and cleaners, to assist.
Now that New Zealand is in Alert Level 2 family and friends are allowed to help – but they need to follow social distancing and good hygiene practices as much as possible.
While DairyNZ is still working with MPI to confirm what businesses can be used in different alert levels, they encourage famers to book movers and cleaners and prepare to transfer stock.
The announcement gave thousands of dairy farmers a peace of mind, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.
“Moving Day is a key time in the dairy calendar, so it’s great that a solution has been secured with Government. It means we’ll move into the next dairy season in a way that keeps them and the public as safe as possible,” says Tim.
“Industry groups will be providing further guidance and information to support dairy farmers who are shifting this season, including ensuring their moves are safe and within their bubbles.”
Kiwi farmers are no strangers to disease eradication programmes with strict movement controls, says Damien. “There were already really strong precautions in place around Moving Day as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis Programme.
“This gives me confidence that farmers will apply very careful behaviour to Moving Day.”