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The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to New Zealand arable growers.

There are over 2,700 farmers in New Zealand involved in arable cropping activities, with combined farm gate sales of approximately NZ $1billion, including cereal grains, pulses, maize grain and specialised seed crops for export and domestic markets. Annual crops are grown from the northernmost parts of New Zealand down to Southland, with maize being the dominant crop in the North Island whereas cereal grains (wheat, barley) and seed production (grass seeds, legume seeds and vegetable seeds) is carried out mainly in Canterbury and Southland.

What’s New

Latest News & Media

  • COVID-19 updates

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    > 5.00pm, Tuesday 31 March

    FAR has updated its list of COVID-19 grower related resources to include:

    Memorandum of Understanding between farmer/owner and employees under COVID-19 ALERT 4

    This document is to be signed by employer and staff member. It outlines employee responsibilities for maintaining Safe Work Practices during the COVID-19 level 4 lock down period. Click here to download Employee Memorandum of Understanding.

    Guidance for COVID-19 protocols on farms

    This document outlines a range of safe practice protocols to help you look after yourself and your family, your employees and their families, as well as your business and your community at this time. Click here to download COVID-19 Safe Practice Protocols.

    COVID-19 8-point plan for growers

    Some ideas on making sure your farm business operation has all points covered during the COVID-19 level 4 lock down period. Click here to download 8-point plan.

    Other useful links and resources:

    > 4.30pm, Friday 27 March⠀⠀⠀⠀

    Essential services audits

    The process of setting up MPI site visits for businesses which have registered as essential services is underway. Businesses which work with fresh produce and export produce will be seen first. Arable business are further down their list. We will update you when we learn more.

    > 3.30pm, Thursday 26 March

    Essential services

    FAR is working with other primary industry groups and MPI to develop a list of services considered essential for our sector. See below for the current list that FAR has submitted to MPI (it is changing all the time). We hope that this provides some guidance around who and what may operate. All support businesses must go through the same essential service registration process as farms i.e., if they have six or more employees they must complete the Safe Practices Registration Form on the MPI website.

    Essential service documentation

    MPI advise that due to the time pressures of getting their essential services registration process up and running, they are currently not providing any formal response to registrations.

    At this stage, staff in essential services do not officially require any documentation; if they are asked why they are out and about, they should respond that they work at an essential business. They should carry their driver’s licence at all times.

    Additionally, many employers are choosing to supply staff with a short letter outlining their job and place of work. You may choose to do this if you wish (click here to download a template you can use).

    Once the registration process is completed, MPI plan to contact businesses to organise a site inspection. Then a certificate will be issued.

    In the interim you can continue to operate, but MPI expect that you will already have robust health procedures in place.


    Essential services to support arable production

    Food safety and verification

    Independent Verification Authorities


    On farm growing operation


    Grain and seed merchants and traders


    Rural contractors (cultivation/drilling/harvesting)


    Agronomists/advisors/crop scouts

    Processing and storage

    Packaging companies including pallets and crates

    Processing and storage

    Grain and seed stores

    Processing and storage

    Grain and seed processing and dressing plants

    Processing and storage

    Mills – flour, feed, oil seed crushing

    Processing and storage

    Malting facilities


    Shipping to domestic and international markets




    Trucking companies – grain, seed, animal feed, essential farm supplies, livestock

    Relevant support services

    Mechanics/ farm machinery parts and engineers

    Relevant support services

    Tyre providers

    Relevant support services

    Fuel deliveries

    Relevant support services

    Irrigation repair services

    Relevant support services

    Electrical engineers and electricians

    Relevant support services

    Agrichemical and fertiliser companies supplying products and services

    Relevant support services

    Delivery of bees for pollination

    Relevant support services

    Laboratories – seed testing and diagnostics

    Relevant support services

    IT support and computer technicians

    Relevant support services

    Post-harvest facilities

    Relevant support services

    Labour supply contractors

    Relevant support services

    Waste collection

    Relevant support services

    Fumigators and fumigation facilities for quarantine purposes

    Relevant support services

    Chemical manufacturers and importers

    > 3.30pm, Wednesday 25 March

    We are aware that the wording around registering as an essential service has been confusing, and have sought clarification from MPI around the process and what advice we can give to you.

    They have now confirmed that if you are a farmer with five or fewer people (including the owner) working at your farm business, AND you are able to achieve social distancing measures between staff in your workplace, including travelling, to and from work, then you do not need to register. If you have more than five staff (including yourself) and/or you cannot guarantee 2 metre distancing of staff due to the type of work being carried out, then you must fill out and submit the Safe Practice Registration Form on the MPI website.

    Click here to go the MPI website to register or contact MPI at 0800 00 83 33 or for further details on registering or the registration process.

    This advice also applies to any contractors or industry personnel visiting or working on your property. Remember, that although your farm is still operational, you must enforce the physical distancing rules.

    > 3.30pm, Friday 20 March

    FAR is moving daily to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of managing the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff, then our levy payers and stakeholders. As such, and based on the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, the following steps have been confirmed:

    • As of 18 March, all grower, business and research visits to FAR have been suspended. All contact or meetings to be carried out via email, telephone or video conference.
    • All FAR grower events and meetings have been suspended for 90 days (until mid-June). They will be replaced with video meetings, podcasts etc. To be reviewed regularly.
    • All international travel by staff has been on hold since mid-March as has any contact with international guests, or those who have travelled with, or spent time with international visitors.
    • FAR staff visiting on-farm research trials must obtain permission from the host farmer in advance.
    • Staff domestic flights are only to be approved if work is essential for FAR business.
    • FAR staff are all set-up and able to work from home, if, or when, that becomes necessary.
    • FAR has excellent video conferencing facilities and is well set up to host meetings with people or groups at any number of sites across New Zealand.

    These measures will be reviewed and updated regularly as the situation develops. At all times, FAR and FAR staff will work within the recommendations set by the Ministry of Health.

  • ​Black-grass monitoring on hold

    The black-grass biosecurity monitoring programme in Canterbury has been suspended due to the COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown. MPI spokesperson Tim Ryder says that while biosecurity is an essential service, only work which is critical to the success of a response will be carried out during the lockdown.

    Mr Ryder says the black-grass programme has now reached a stage where this pause in activity is unlikely to have a serious impact.

    “This is the first growing year when black-grass has not been detected to date and only two properties are requiring intensive surveillance. However, as we do not know when the COVID-19 Alert Level will be lowered, we cannot predict when we will be able to recommence operations.”

    MPI are asking members of the farming community to keep an eye out for black-grass if it is able to be done in a safe manner. If you find something suspicious, take a note of the location, use your cell-phone to take a photo, and call the Pest and Disease Hotline on 0800 80 99 66.

    More information about black-grass