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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”