Farmers are being asked to make a checklist on how to run their farm in the event that they are unable to do so due to Covid-19.
Federated Farmers and other industry groups arranged an online meeting where farmers could put questions to experts about the virus, isolating on farm and vaccines to experts yesterday.
One specific question was what would happen if they’re not well enough to take care of their stock.
Federated Farmers team leader of industry policy Julie Geange said from a legal stand point the responsibility for animal welfare sits with the owner of the animal or the person in charge.
“A industry working group is working really hard to pull together across the sector, you know, using local solutions for local people a way to make sure that somebody can come in and look after your animals. If you know you’re unable to do that.
“It won’t be an easy one, but forward planning really is the key to that if you know somebody can step in and help you. If you’re in trouble, then that’s the way to do it. Because they’re going to be familiar with your systems.”
She said farmers without someone else who can step in should take the time to fill in a checklist.
“It has information on where to find things, what your systems are that sort of thing, hopefully it will never have to be used, I can’t see that happening at this point but we can live in hope.”
Southern DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Michael Butchard took part in the meeting to answer health related questions.
He said the best thing farmers can do is to get vaccinated – but if they do contract the virus they would likely be able to isolate on farm.
“Obviously the priority is to stop the spread of the virus so it will be on a case by case basis, but if you’re able to convince us that you can carry on your duties without spreading Covid to anyone else than in theory you would be able to stay on the farm.
“Many people won’t be able to continue working if they get the virus because they’ll be feeling sick.”
However Dr Butchard said farmers wouldn’t be able to travel on public roads to access other parts of their farm because on the small chance they had an accident they’d be putting others at risk.
One farmer asked how to start a conversation with their vaccine hesitant workers.
“The best thing to do is to open the conversation and talk about why you were vaccinated. If you need further facts and information and it’s not always about facts and information for people being there’s a lot on the Ministry of Health website.
“It’s about keeping communication channels open – if people talk about why they haven’t been vaccinated that’s a good starting point, because if you ask someone that straight way they might put their barriers up.”
Dr Michael Butchard said some regions which don’t have Covid-19 quarantine facilities like Southland would be able to arrange accommodation for farmers if they did need to isolate off farm.