The Government's announcement that Moving Day can go ahead on June 1 is "terrific news" says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

Each year thousands of dairy farmers, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to commence new employment, and contract milking or sharemilking contracts.

Even without Covid-19 restrictions it was a huge logistical exercise, often spanning many days to get animals, gear and people relocated in a safe and secure manner.

This year it would be more like "Moving Week" due to Covid-19 restrictions, Mackle told The Country Early Edition's Rowena Duncum.


Following the national Covid-19 lockdown, a Moving Day Working Group including DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fonterra and FMG formed to identify solutions for the safe movement of people, livestock, machinery and goods when the new dairy season begins (June 1), while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

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"It's been a team effort quite frankly" said Mackle.

While it was great to get the go ahead it was important to remember "the job's still got to be done" and DairyNZ had a helpful Q&A section on its website to help farmers said Mackle.

"There's also going to be a check list and that's being worked on right now to really help guide people through that process ... for example who is actually in your bubble? You've also got moving trucks and cleaning companies and all that sort of stuff ... so there are some broader issues to think about as well."

The logistics of Moving Day were complicated already and Covid-19 added an extra layer of complexity said Mackle.

"There's probably between 1600 and 2000 different farming businesses that do need to make a shift ... so if you factor in all the other people that are involved in that ... it's a big deal for us so logistically it's always a challenge, so putting this stuff on top of it means that we have to take extra care."

However, New Zealand dairy farmers were well-prepared to understand the protocols surrounding disease transmission due to the ongoing threat of cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis, said Mackle.

"They understand so many of these concepts ... contact tracing - all these kind of things - we've been through this stuff for the last few years so it actually stands us in a bit of good stead I think."


Guidelines for farmers to ensure human safety and animal welfare needs are met will be available from DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

Also in today's interview: Mackle urged farmers to vote in the DairyNZ levy 2020.