New Zealand’s Food Supply Needs Protecting
The animal medicines and crop protection lobby group Agcarm applauds the government’s efforts to protect the health of New Zealanders in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, buts asks that support is extended to the farming community for maintaining essential food supplies.
Agcarm chief executive says “our rural communities are needed more than ever to ensure that this health crisis doesn’t turn into a hunger crisis”. Food production must be prioritised as an essential part of the COVID-19 response.
“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 warns 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,” he says.
The New Zealand animal medicine and crop protection manufacturers, veterinarian clinics and rural distributors are working hard to continue providing the farming community with the tools it needs to maintain a stable food supply.
“We stand ready to cooperate and help in any way we can to ensure food security does not add to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Ross.
The association has developed a list of requirements for the continued supply of food. “The health and wellbeing of people is of utmost importance,” says Ross. “This list is achievable without putting the health of anyone at risk.” It could include measures to keep people safe by the use of personal protective equipment, stricter hygiene and testing methods.
The list includes:
• 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 (eg 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.
These measures will mean that we have a healthy food supply when we need it the most.