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COVID-19 updates

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> 11.00am Thursday 30 April

COVID-19 pop-up testing for the Rakaia community

If you are symptomatic, yet can't get access to your local GP or Healthline services, then please attend the “no booking required” COVID-19 assessment centre.

Saturday 2 May, 1.30pm - 4.30pm, Rakaia

More information

> 10.00am, Friday 17 April

What COVID-19 Alert Level 3 means for farmers?

The Prime Minister will make an announcement on whether, or when, New Zealand will be moving down to Alert Level 3 on Monday 20 April.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has also released information about what operating under Alert Level 3 will look like for the Primary Industry.

Under Alert Level 3, primary sector businesses and support services, including those previously regarded as non-essential, will be able to operate as long as they can operate safely. In practice this means there will be an extension in the services that farmers can access.

We encourage you to read the following website page that lists the types of business and support services that can operate under Alert 3: List of businesses and service suppliers that can operate under Alert Level 3.

For arable farmers the types of businesses and support services appear to include most activities farmers rely on to operate their business, including:

  • Farm advisors
  • Biosecurity readiness, response, recovery and pest management activities
  • Wholesalers
  • Construction of farm sheds
  • Routine plant, farm and gear maintenance
  • Manufacture, distribution and application of agricultural input products
  • Agricultural supply stores – for delivery or contactless pick up only

We recommend you check with your suppliers/contractors exactly what the changes mean in practice.

Please do your best to continue to stay within your bubble. There will likely be more people movement under Alert Level 3, so it is even more important that farmers have good health and safety procedures in place on their farm.

Other useful links and resources:

> 9.00am, Wednesday 15 April

Compliance during Level 4 Lockdown

Environment Canterbury have asked that we pass on the following information about compliance monitoring and enforcement for essential businesses which are operating during the lockdown.

During lockdown, we expect compliance with the relevant consent conditions, where it is safe to do so. However, we understand compliance may not be achieved in some circumstances due to COVID-19 restrictions.

If you are unable to fulfil any ongoing monitoring, please note that we will not consider this to be non-compliance. However, we do request the following:

  • Monitoring is to recommence as soon as possible once the lockdown is lifted.
  • Once monitoring recommences, email your compliance monitoring officer quoting your consent number (ie, CRCXXXXXX) and explain (i) what monitoring could not be undertaken during the lockdown, and (ii) the period of time.
  • If you are still able to undertake monitoring during lockdown and it is safe to do so, we would expect monitoring to continue.

If there are other conditions of your consent that you are unable to meet due to the lockdown, or if you have any other queries, please contact your compliance monitoring officer.

If you are in this situation, please contact your compliance monitoring officer or our customer services team (0800 324 636 or our contact ECan form) as soon as possible. We want to support you as much as possible during this event, so we will simply record the details of your situation without grading compliance. However, we would expect you to move towards full compliance when restrictions are lifted (as above).

If you have an issue with water measurement hardware or water use data

Where you are unable to provide normal services related water measurement and water-use data transfer, please follow the following process:

  • Contact your data service provider (or if you are a data service provider, contact the affected consent holder)
  • Try to identify the issue. If it can be resolved without leaving your isolation ‘bubble’, initiate or take necessary steps to remedy the problem
  • If a site visit is required, delay remedial work until the relevant restrictions, at any alert level, have been lifted.

In this case, service providers should keep a log of all issues that will need to be resolved when possible. If you are a consent holder, email us at (copying in your data service provider) and provide the

  • Consent number
  • WAP number
  • Service provider’s name
  • A description of the problem

How we are managing our essential services

Priority response to environmental incidents will be given to activities directly affecting human health, such as drinking water supply and wastewater treatment.

We will continue to undertake some monitoring during the lockdown period, with a focus on essential activities including water abstraction and human effluent discharges. Monitoring in other areas, including activities you or your business may be involved in, may also occur.

If you are in any doubt about what activity can or cannot be undertaken at this time, or you have any questions at all, please contact your compliance monitoring officer direct or our customer services team (0800 324 636 or our contact ECan form).

Nadeine Dommisse, Environment Canterbury CEO

> 11.00am, Monday 6 April

Understanding COVID-19 and different international responses

We've come across an excellent summary of all things COVID-19 prepared by two Economics Professors from the London Business School. The first link below outlines what is known about the virus to date, and provides interesting information about the demographics of the illness and its spread. The second link includes information on a range of possible health, economic and macroeconomic response options.

Access to personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • The Ministry of Health has a process for distributing PPE to those working in non-health related essential services. Applications must be made through the Ministry’s website, and supply is not guaranteed. Click here to apply for PPE.
  • To apply for PPE via the Ministry of Health, you must have a New Zealand Business Number (NZBN). Any New Zealand business or company can register for a NZBN. Click here to find out how.

What farm jobs are considered essential?

Please follow the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidelines if you are requiring any essential service worker to visit your farm during the lockdown period. Federated Farmers have put together an easy flowchart that may help focus your thinking when prioritising tasks on-farm that require external assistance. Click here to open.

> 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.

> 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.