Around 11,000 people whose working visas are set to expire over the 2020/21 season have been granted a new visa.
“It shows the strength of Federated Farmers that we’re being looked to as the ‘go to’ source of advice and conduit of essential information to the agriculture sector during Covid-19,” she told Feds members in an email last night.
“We’ve found answers to pretty much every question our members have fired at us over the last week or two and it’s all summarised on our website and in the regular advisories we’ve emailed.”
Milne says it isn’t too far-fetched an analogy to say the nation is at war.
“This time the enemy is microscopic but still deadly.
“And just as farming and food supply was regarded as essential services during both World Wars, the government has again given us that status under the COVID-19 lockdown.”
Milne points out that as NZ faces huge economic disruption as a country we’re holding onto a small number of economic life rafts. Farming is one of them.
“The export income we continue to earn is crucial now, and as we recover at the other end of this crisis.
“The seasons and the requirements of our animals and crops pay no heed to coronavirus. “Sheep still have to be shorn for their welfare: fertiliser still has to be spread so there is grass and crops after winter.”
However, Milne had some strong words of caution for farmers.
No farmer should abuse this privileged position we have been granted, she adds.
“If it’s not essential work, don’t do it. No gallivanting off socially; we need to observe lockdown rules after work just like the rest of New Zealanders. Keep your 2-metres from fellow workers.”