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Horticulture supply chain businesses may need to register as an essential service during NZ lockdown

At 11:59pm Wednesday, New Zealand will move into National Alert Level 4 in response to COVID-19, which will see many businesses and non-essential services close, and residents restricted to their homes for four weeks.

Primary industries, such as fruit and vegetable supply chain businesses have been included on the list of essential services. However, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it needs assurances that businesses' processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions and reducing the potential spread of Coronavirus. This includes businesses that supply essential support to primary industries essential services.

"Without these assurances, businesses will not be able to operate," The MPI website informed. "If you provide an essential service, we require you to register with us, and following that we will ask you 11 critical questions about how you intend to stop any spread of COVID-19."

A business which has five or fewer people (including the owner) working at each business site, and can achieve social distancing measures between staff in the workplace, including travelling to and from work, will not need to fill in a registration form. Those who are in doubt, or cannot guarantee these two factors must fill in the form. The deadline is 5pm (New Zealand time) on Friday, March 27.

For details on the registration visit the MPI website here

Meanwhile, Hort NZ is asking the government to reconsider its position on independent fruit and vegetable retailers, after the Cabinet decided that these shops are to close.

In Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation has reiterated the need for Governments to assure that the agricultural supply chain will not be disrupted by state and territory border closures and mandatory quarantine periods.

"Getting produce from paddock to plate is a complex process that often spans multiple state and territory jurisdictions," NFF CEO Tony Mahar said. “In moving fruit from north Queensland to New South Wales, freedom of movement is critical. Logistics that deliver inputs such as fertiliser and packaging to farms, and packing facilities are also fundamental. Right now, the last thing the people who are doing the important job of producing, processing and delivering every-day essentials need is inconsistency across states and territories and a mountain of cumbersome paperwork.”

Mr Mahar added the Federal Government had previously reassured the NFF that the continuity of the agricultural supply chain was a top priority, but needs to go further.

“The Government understands that the unfettered operation of agriculture and the supply chain services that support it, is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of all Australians," he said. “However, there is an anxiousness from farmers and supporting industries, about their continued ability to do business in the face of the recent state and territory border restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods. It is common sense that priority provisions be made for agriculture."

Queensland has joined South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory in introducing border restrictions, which begin tomorrow. While the Federal government has strengthened restrictions on social gatherings, as part of a Stage 2 response.

For more information on the coronavirus impact on the industry:

In New Zealand visit Hort NZ

In Australia visit Growcom

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