OPINION: Rural NZ is again getting the rough end of the stick when it comes to services - this time in relation to Covid-19 vaccinations.
It is applauding the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but says more needs to be done to prioritise food production.
“Our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis,” says Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross.
“We must maintain the uninterrupted movement of animal medicine and crop protection products, seeds and feed so that our farmers can keep healthy livestock and maintain an abundant supply of meat, fruits, vegetables and grains.”
He says that any delays could put food supplies and animal welfare at risk in the short and long-term.
“It’s one thing to have enough toilet paper, quite another if people find that the supply of fresh fruit, veg and meat is put under strain,” says Ross.
The association has developed a list of requirements for the continued supply of food, including:
• Animal medicine and vaccine manufacturers and suppliers are classified in the same way as those for people,
• The border remains open to imports and exports of crop protection and animal medicine products,
• Animal medicine and crop protection research sites, warehouses, and critical operational staff (e.g. rural vets and technicians) are exempt from any lockdown requirements,
• The Ministry of Primary Industries supports the release of products in offshore countries that are needed for our animals and crops,
• No restrictions are placed on internal freight within New Zealand for the supply of animal medicines and crop protection products to rural distributors, veterinarians and farmers.
“The health and wellbeing of people is of utmost importance,” says Ross.
“This list is achievable without putting the health of anyone at risk.”