The Government needs to urgently engage with the meat industry to look at ways to allow increased productivity over coming weeks, otherwise there will be a significant animal and farmer welfare issue, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“While farmers are an essential business, they are still experiencing significant disruption from COVID-19 and are grappling with the ongoing effects of drought.

“Meat processing plants are an essential service and have taken the appropriate steps to enact social distancing and other precautions for staff, but this has also led to productivity constraints.

“Meat Industry Association Chairman Tim Ritchie told the Epidemic Response Committee there was 75 per cent less venison being processed, 50 per cent less sheep meat and 30 per cent less beef.

“This is a significant issue as feed supplies are low and drought-stricken farms are especially struggling, if stock can’t be processed, then they will need to be culled on farm which will be a disaster.

“The Government should also be looking at ways to support the forestry industry to ramp up production in a safe way.

“The Forestry sector has signalled it is committed to operating within Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. We should be letting them do this as a matter of urgency, otherwise we are missing out on $6 billion in export revenue when our country needs it the most.

“Our primary sector is essential to providing stability to our economy in this trying time. But  they will need support to continue producing our valuable food and exports and we should be ensuring as few roadblocks as possible.”

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