Food sector to continue as normal: Professor

Frank Griffin
Frank Griffin
It is business as usual for farmers around the country, despite Covid-19.

Emeritus Prof Frank Griffin says that as the nation scrambles to contain the virus, the food sector will continue as normal.

Prof Griffin has spent a career in animal health research.

He also has a strong interest in New Zealand’s food production systems and he is director of Agriculture at Otago (Ag@Otago), an initiative launched in 2016, involving more than 60 Otago researchers with active interests in agriculture.

‘‘I wouldn’t like to speculate too much. But I don’t believe we will see a drastic shift in product shipment. Ports are still very much open and there is still good demand,’’ he said.

‘‘What I do think we may see is a dramatic resolution for this virus and following this initial upheaval people will eventually become desensitised and begin to get on with life.’’

Meanwhile, Ag Proud NZ has called for compassion among farmers.

Jon Pemberton, chairman of the Ag Proud NZ trust — whose aim is to re-build the relationship between rural communities and their urban counterparts — said in a statement now, more than ever, was the time for New Zealanders to pull together.

The statement was posted on the organisation’s Facebook page late last week.

‘‘With the current global situation, agriculture will now be in the spotlight and relied not only for sustainment, but potentially for the economic crutch we can provide as an exporting nation,’’ Mr Pemberton wrote.

‘‘Across social media we see some members of our agricultural community sharing vitriolic posts aimed at Government and those members of society that have been critical of our industry.

‘‘No amount of politicking or grandstanding will change what has happened in the past or what people are currently experiencing.

‘‘We are coming to terms with a completely new vocabulary: pandemic, recession, depression, social distancing, self-isolation. These terms weren’t even on our radars just weeks ago, yet are creating uncertainty and very real anxieties for Kiwis. Now is the time for unity, for community spirit and to help all our whanau through whatever lies ahead.

-By Alice Scott

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