Sector feeling Covid’s effect

While it is largely business as usual for the region's farmers, Covid-19 is having an impact on the sector.

Canterbury Rural Advisory Group chairman Winton Dalley said a prolonged lockdown could have a devastating impact on a sector already knocked by drought and flooding.

``We're having fortnightly industry Zoom meetings to keep up to date, and it's not a particularly rosy picture.

``On top of the weather events, Covid is just another shock.''

Alert Level 4 restrictions meant shearing gangs and freezing works were operating at a reduced capacity.

Even if restrictions were reduced, at Level 3 production would drop significantly, potentially leading to a backlog in the event of a prolonged lockdown, Mr Dalley said.

``For farmers needing to de-stock and lambs contracted for the spring period will be impacted, so any slowdown in those processes will cause further stress.

``We're also at the peak of calving, which means the bobby calf kill may be held up, so there's a lot of potential issues.''

Covid-19 was also causing delays for international shipping, affecting New Zealand's primary exports and the ability of farmers and contractors to import new machinery.

Recruiting staff for the new season was also a challenge due to border restrictions and New Zealand's relatively high employment rate.

The recent sunny weather would have given farmers a boost as they looked to recover from the prolonged drought and the May 31 flood event.

But more rain was forecast for later in the week, bringing more pressure on farms already affected by heavy rain events.

``The challenges just keep coming,'' Mr Dalley said.

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