Tuesday, 23 November 2021 11:55

Tankers will turn up at Covid farms

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says tankers will still turn up to collect milk from farms that may be infected by Covid. Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says tankers will still turn up to collect milk from farms that may be infected by Covid.

A Covid outbreak on a supplier farm will not stop Fonterra from collecting milk, says chief executive Miles Hurrell.

He told Dairy News that milk collection is not up for discussion.

"We will pick up milk even if the farmer is affected by Covid," he says.

"Tankers will still turn up to collect milk - that's not up for discussion."

Fonterra has processes in place for such a situation. There will be no "human to human contact" on the farm, says Hurrell.

The right controls will need to be in place on the farm as well.

On vaccination, Hurrell says it's not mandatory for Fonterra staff or farmer suppliers and their workers.

However, the co-operative ran on-site vaccination clinics to boost uptake among staff.

Covid is seeping through the Auckland border into other parts of the North Island. Dairy farmers are preparing for more positive cases turning up on farms.

"It's only a matter of time before we get more positive cases of Covid-19 turning up on farm," says Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis.

"Distance from health and other facilities, workforce shortages and the need to continue to look after animals and crops raise all sorts of complications.

"As DHB medical officers will be making the decision on whether it's practicable for a farmer or key farm staff member to self-isolate on the farm, evidence of pre-planning and preparedness will be an important factor," Lewis says.

In a Federated Farmers-hosted webinar Southern DHB medical officer of health Dr Michael Butchard emphasised being double-jabbed was the "very best defence" if a farmer or key team member who tests positive sought to self-isolate on farm.

Vaccination rates of people on the farm would weigh heavily on MOHs as they made the "case by case" decisions on how and where isolation owuld happen if someone tested positive.

"The latest data out of the USA indicates if you're not vaccinated you're 11 times more likely to die from Covid-19 and 10 times more likely to be hospitalised," Butchard says.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has been working with the agri sector to ensure farmers are prepared.

The latest initiative is a checklist for farmers so that they can tick off preparation readiness in terms of personal wellbeing, and everything a neighbour or someone else coming onto the farm would need to know should key people have to go into MIQ or hospital - right down to the names of dogs and where their food is located.

The checklist is available on DairyNZ and Federated Farmers websites.

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