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Minister Missing In Action

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry.

“Sheep and beef farmers should not have had to wait another week to cross borders just to look after their stock.

“It’s been the strong and determined advocacy of Local MP Andrew Bayly that kept pushing for the exemption with the support from Beef and Lamb which caused the Minister to finally act.

“The Minister still doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of the issue. New Zealand farmers deserve immediate action. The Primary Industry should not have to work so tirelessly to lobby the Minister into letting them do their jobs.

“Even with the changes, the Ministers action are still not good enough. The Equine and Apiary sectors are still heavily struggling. The Minister needs to act immediately to help these already struggling industries which are deeply important to New Zealand.”

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