Comment: Extraordinary times require extraordinary people with extraordinary patience, writes Federated Farmers Meat & Wool chairman Miles Anderson.
The Covid-19 lockdown means health and emergency services are designated as essential, as are food/beverage production and distribution, media, transport and a number of critical industries that are key to meeting the basic needs of the population while we reduce (and hopefully eliminate) the spread of the virus.
Those of us in the Ag sector have a responsibility to produce food for the country and for others around the world who are in similar or worse situations.
For this to occur we rely on so many people to get that product from our paddocks on farm, to the plates of consumers.
We also need to take the time to understand the challenges they also face in doing their jobs under such trying circumstances; all industries are doing their best to introduce protocols that allows employees to continue to work safely.
For many businesses this is likely to mean a reduction in productivity. These businesses and employees need the support of farmers and others now more than ever.
Meat processors, for example, are seeing a reduction in the number of employees on the chain to achieve physical distancing.
This impacts each plant's daily capacity - not ideal but an inevitable consequence of keeping people safe. We are all in the same boat and the last thing your drafter, works rep or truck driver needs is hostility from farmers because their animals are on farm for a few weeks longer than budgeted for.
Note that because procurement is not an issue, it's a good time to deal directly with meat companies.
The same can be said about the shearing industry. Contractors are doing their utmost to ensure staff safety and if that means fewer people in the shearing shed then that is a small price to pay, inconvenient though it may be. Shearing can only occur if it is for genuine animal welfare reasons; if it can be done later then it should be delayed.
Talk to your shearing contractor about rescheduling shearing or crutching. At times like these, necessity is the mother of invention. Is your neighbour's woolshed close enough to split the shearing gang and spread the mobs?
Please don't be that person who must get the job done with no regard for the pressure others are also under in these trying times. No one wants to be responsible for the spread of Covid-19. We are all in this together.
I am humbled by the people who are selflessly working in the meat plants, factories, shearing gangs, trucking firms and the like during this difficult time. Thank you. Your efforts are appreciated and recognised, without you the country would be hungry, cold and even more worried about the future.