DairyNZ encourages farmers to have a Covid-19 plan

DairyNZ encourages farmers to have a Covid-19 plan

Content brought to you by DairyNZ

DairyNZ is encouraging farmers to be prepared in case someone contracts Covid-19 on-farm.

It was imperative farmers protected their teams from Covid-19 no matter what programme the Government was running, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said.

“Even with the traffic light [system] we still need to maintain the basics. We know the Delta strain is far more virulent, so we need to keep our farms safe in that context,” Mackle told The Country Sport Breakfast’s Brian Kelly.

Encouraging staff to get double vaccinated was “the biggest action we can take” in the fight against Covid-19, Mackle said.

Other precautions included good hygiene practices, using QR codes to scan in and keeping an eye out for staff who may be feeling unwell, Mackle said.

“If anyone’s sick make sure they know they should stay home and if they have Covid symptoms – go and get tested.”

DairyNZ encourages farmers to have a Covid-19 plan

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied

It was important to already have a plan in place if someone did end up with Covid-19 on-farm, Mackle said.

“Make sure that you know what you’re going to do, not only to minimise risk but also to take action.”

The decision as to whether a sick staff member could stay on-farm would ultimately be up to a medical health officer from the local DHB, Mackle said.

“It’s all very region-specific. Some people may be able to remain on-farm, self-isolate and follow the guidance provided by the medical officer.

“In other situations where it’s not safe to stay on-farm and there could be a risk of contaminating others, they may need to be moved to another facility.”

Whatever the situation, Mackle said it was vital to make sure the milk processor was notified if anyone on-farm tested positive for Covid.

“They can then put the necessary precautions in place for their important drivers as food processors.”

Milk processors we “absolutely committed” to work with farmers to continue collection, even if Covid was on-farm, Mackle said.

Listen below:

“However, farmers have still got to make sure that alternative plans are in place to enable that milking to happen if someone gets sick.”

This is where planning ahead to keep the farm running came into play and this was especially important for smaller operators, Mackle said.

“If you’re the one out there doing the mahi every day – what are you going to do? Who is going to jump in?

“I’ve heard of cases where some farms have got an agreement – ‘if you’ve got a problem with this then we’ll come and help’ – and vice versa.

“That’s going to be important to get people out of the dairy shed if they’re Covid-positive and make sure they stay away. That will make it a lot easier for milk collection.”

• DairyNZ has more information, templates and checklists on its website to help farmers develop a Covid-19 plan. Find out more here.

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