Dairy farmers are hoping this week’s snap Covid-19 lockdown will be “short and quick” as most are still in the thick of calving or lambing.
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Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said rural communities needed to do their best to stay focussed and active during the lockdown (file pic).

Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said some farms remained short-staffed from last year’s lockdowns and so the physical drain was even greater this winter with fewer people around to help.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the alert level 4 lockdown on Tuesday night and Hahn said it would mean even more isolation for those working on the land at a time when they needed to stay connected.

”So really not ideal but hopefully we can be out of lockdown quickly.”

Fonterra’s manufacturing plants, like this one at Hautapu in the Waikato, are operating under strict Covid-19 regulations.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF Fonterra’s manufacturing plants, like this one at Hautapu in the Waikato, are operating under strict Covid-19 regulations.

She said people in rural communities must look after themselves, find ways to remain active and look for some positives to focus on.

Hahn and her family run a dairy farm as well as some sheep and beef in the King Country.

“We are over half way [calving] here in Te Kūiti so really still in the thick of it, usually we are 75 per cent finished by the end of the month.”

The farm’s ewes and hoggits had not started lambing yet but others targeting the pre-Christmas market have had lambs on the ground for over a month, Hahn said.

Jacqui Hahn’s family farm in the King Country is still in the thick of calving.
SUPPLIED/STUFF Jacqui Hahn’s family farm in the King Country is still in the thick of calving.

“Every farm will be a little bit different depending on what market they are targeting and maximum grass growth.

“It’s pretty wet underfoot around the Waikato at the moment. This just makes everyday work harder for people and the stock, it adds new work to protect the grass, soil and water.”

Hahn said lockdowns slowed services farmers needed at lambing and calving time, to ensure the welfare of their animals.

“When farmers feel they are unable to help their stock their own personal health is heavily impacted.

Some farms targeting the pre-Christmas market already have lambs on the ground (file pic).
PIERS FULLER/STUFF Some farms targeting the pre-Christmas market already have lambs on the ground (file pic).

“If Auckland stays stuck in lockdown, we hope that the mistakes of the past are not repeated at the [regional] boundaries.

“[We need] a smoother system for essential transport to keep food flowing into the cities and services [in rural areas] for livestock to be checked on.”

Fonterra was well versed in lockdown protocol to protect its suppliers, staff and manufacturing plants around the country.

The dairy company said all office-based employees were working from home, with essential workers only in the workplace.

“Our manufacturing and distribution operations nationwide will continue to operate with essential workers only onsite.

“These workplaces are stepping-up their safety protocols as a precaution to protect our people, including restricting all non-essential travel to site.”

Nominations are open for Fonterra’s board election but a repeat of the drama that rocked the vote three years ago can be ruled out.

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