New Zealand’s largest e-commerce company is re-listing online livestock and feed sales as the country enters the third week of a Covid-19 lockdown which has severely restricted farmers’ ability to buy, sell, and feed their animals.
When New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country would go into a strict ‘alert level four‘ lockdown late last month, Trade Me suspended sales via its online auction platform to comply with regulations halting ‘non-essential’ services, a company spokesperson told AFN.
This cessation in activity applied to all listings, including those in its ‘Farming & forestry‘ category, they added.
But the site has now re-opened listings that relate to ‘essential services,’ including agricultural food production.
The government is allowing farmers and other food producers to continue operating on the condition they register with the country’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and satisfactorily demonstrate they’re able to implement suitable work safety measures.
Wellington-based Trade Me has likewise registered as an essential service provider with the MPI to serve the food production industry, the spokesperson said.
While farmers and growers supplying the food industry are ‘essential,’ prohibitions on the movement of people – and the forced shutdown of ‘non-essential’ farming, forestry, and related businesses – have caused wide-ranging restrictions on many aspects of their day-to-day work.
Livestock trading, in particular, has been left in limbo as physical sale yards are no longer allowed to open for auctions. Rural supply stores may still be operating, but customers aren’t allowed to visit them.
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Kiwi livestock farmers are facing double the trouble, given that the pandemic has hit in the middle of the New Zealand autumn – typically a time of high cattle sales.
“With typical public livestock sales closed due to the lockdown, farmers are restricted in how they sell their livestock at this busy time of year,” said Trade Me head of marketplace Lisa Stewart in a statement.
“There is an animal welfare issue at stake, farmers need to move stock if they won’t have enough feed for the coming months. [Trade Me is] able to provide this service to farmers. We hope this will help them to move and buy the animals they need during the lockdown.”
In addition to livestock and feed sales, Trade Me is opening up a number of other farming and forestry subcategories on its site so members can buy and sell “other approved essentials.”
For delivery and collection of purchases made through Trade Me, farmers will have to make arrangements for transport that comply with lockdown regulations. Cash transactions won’t be allowed.
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