Moving Day, where dairy farmers and others begin new employment and milking contracts on new farms, will go ahead as planned this year but with strict controls to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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Agricultural Minister Damien O’Connor says strict controls will be put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Source: 1 NEWS

On June 1, the first day of the dairy season sees a large number of farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move their possessions, livestock and machinery to new farms to begin new employment opportunities and milking contracts.

“This annual movement is a critical part of the dairy industry – an industry that contributes over $18 billion dollars a year in exports to our economy and provides jobs for around 46,000 people in our rural communities”, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in a statement.

“It’s also an industry that will play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic recovery after Covid-19, so it was vital that Moving Day went ahead. Since the Alert Level 4 lockdown was announced, and dairy farming was deemed an essential service, the Government has been committed to finding a way to enable it to proceed.”

The Government has been working alongside organisations – including DairyNZ, Fonterra, Federated Farmers and FMG – for solutions for those in the sector, while also protecting the economy without jeopardising people’s health and safety, Mr O’Connor said.

Gypsy Day is just six weeks out. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) then worked with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for solutions to allow Moving Day to be carried out under any alert level.

“Activities need to be restricted to just those that are absolutely necessary though and any movement around New Zealand must ensure people’s ‘bubbles’ are maintained.”

DairyNZ said the announcement will be a great relief to farmers.

“Moving Day is a key time in the dairy calendar so it’s great that a solution has been secured with Government which will provide peace of mind for thousands of farmers. It means we’ll move into the next dairy season in a way that keeps them and the public as safe as possible,” DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said in a statement.

“Industry groups will be providing further guidance and information to support those dairy farmers who are shifting this season, including ensuring their moves are safe and within their bubbles.”

The official moving day – Gypsy Day – is June 1. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr O’Connor said New Zealand farmers would be familiar with disease eradication programmes with strict movement controls as a result of the Mycoplasma bovis programme.

“This gives me confidence that farmers will apply very careful behaviour to Moving Day,” he said.

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