Farmers face uncertainty over whether biggest day on sharemilking calendar will go ahead

Just six weeks out, there’s concern over whether the biggest day on the share milking calendar will go ahead due to Covid-19.

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Gypsy Day is just six weeks out. Source: 1 NEWS

Thousands of farms change ownership and many families move entire households, machinery and farming equipment to new properties on Gypsy Day.

Last year, the day was complicated amidst the Mycoplasma bovis, now it’s Covid-19 putting the event in uncertainty.

Richard McIntyre, a share milker himself, says everything’s on the line.

“If no-one’s allowed to move it’ll have huge impact on the industry going forward,” he said.

“Financially, share milkers who’ve signed contracts or brought farms will have lent money from the bank based on that contract and expectation of income to come,” said Richard McIntyre.

Federated Farmers say it’s been fielding dozens of calls from anxious sharemilkers concerned about their livelihoods and stock welfare - so many that they’ve now formed a working group to ensure their voices get heard at the top.

In the next 24 hours they’re putting a proposal forward to the Government, outlining the importance of the day going ahead on June 1st.

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says he empathises with the estimated 2000 Kiwi farmers relying on Gypsy Day going ahead this year.

“They should be reassured we’re looking at all the details, we understand the dilemma they’re facing and the pressures on them but we have to have a pragmatic approach,” he said.

The minister hopes to have an answer for sharemilkers in a week, once the next step in the country’s Covid-19 approach is announced.

Although it’s not yet clear what restrictions could be in place when New Zealand comes out of Alert Level 4, Mr O’Connor’s optimistic moving day will go ahead.

“The back up or problems otherwise would be a massive challenge across the whole sector, so we’re working on enabling moving and shift of animals and people from one farm to another,” he said.

“But we have to have strict protocols to prevent the spread of Mycoplasma bovis and Covid-19,” said the minister.