Tuesday, 09 March 2021 09:55

Managing Covid issues top of the list for MPI

Written by  Peter Burke
MPI director general Ray Smith says getting his front line staff vaccinated is essential so that they and other staff can support farmers and industry. MPI director general Ray Smith says getting his front line staff vaccinated is essential so that they and other staff can support farmers and industry.

Dealing with the outfall from Covid-19 is one of the top priorities in the coming year for Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) boss Ray Smith.

He told Rural News that getting his front line staff vaccinated is essential so that they and other staff can support farmers and industry through the “inevitable” future outbreaks of the virus.

“I don’t underestimate the Covid issue and we can’t afford to have our industries closed down or not meet trading expectations,” he told Rural News.

Smith says he’s full of praise for the way the agricultural sector has coped with Covid during the past year.

“They have been awesome. We have taken our ag sector community through three lockdowns of different forms and our export revenues will be similar to last year,” he says. “Volume is good, but the exchange rate may peel a bit off the final result.”

Smith says MPI staff have performed exceptionally well and stuck to the rules and not one of them has become infected with the virus. For his part, Smith is a member of a small group of chief executives from key government agencies responsible for matters pertaining to the border.

The group called the ‘border executive’ includes the CEO’s of Customs, MFAT, MBIE, NZTE and Transport. Smith says the role of this group is to ensure that there is good coordination around border-related issues.

Smith says another interesting aside to the Covid crisis is that a number of MPI’s leading epidemiologists who were working on the M. bovis outbreak have been working with colleagues from the Ministry of Health on Covid. He says this highlights the transferable nature of their skills.

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