Farming: What is Moving Day, who is involved and how is it affected by COVID-19?

The day will see an estimated 5000 farmers pack up and move.
The day will see an estimated 5000 farmers pack up and move. Photo credit: Getty

For many in the farming world, June 1 marks one of the biggest days on the calendar, with the advent of Moving Day.

But what exactly is Moving Day and who's involved?

Who's moving?

In a nutshell, Moving Day is the start of the dairy season and sees a large number of dairy farming families, shareholders, contract milkers and employees move to new farms.

The day will see an estimated 5000 farmers pack up and move, according to Jane Muir from DairyNZ.

And it's not just people who will be travelling to new farms, in many cases cattle will also come along for the ride. There will also be a fair share of farm equipment to be moved, meaning logistics for those involved can be complicated.

Is it just one day?

Despite its name, Moving Day often takes longer than just 24 hours.

"The move is these days also referred to as Moving Week because this is how long it can take to move," says Muir. 

"Farmers can start the move before, during or after June 1."

Will Queen's Birthday have an effect?

Muir says the fact Moving Day falls on a public holiday this year "won't have any impact", with farmers unlikely to enjoy a sleep in and a day off for Queen's Birthday.

One way the holiday could have an effect on the day, though, is that motorists and farmers might need to share the road in some parts of the country.

According to Stephen Cantwell from FMG Insurance, there are often more crash claims around the Queen's Birthday holiday with more people hitting the road for the long weekend.  

"This is why we’re urging extra caution this year as Moving Day, which coincides with the long weekend returning traffic," says Cantwell. "There will be a lot of traffic on our roads."

His advice was echoed by the police.

"We all need to look out for each other. Drivers need to look out for people crossing the roads and moving stock, as well as motorcyclists – who can be harder to see on the road," says Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan.

Apart from the physical move, what's involved?

Aside from the actual moving from one property to another, Moving Day also involves plenty of admin. 

There are plenty of regulatory requirements needing to be met, including preparing risk assessment plans or policies for the new property, completing animal health records and updating contractor coordination forms.

Muir says another big aspect of the event is the planning involved.

"It is very important that everyone involved in the move knows what is happening, when and how," she says. 

"Key priorities for Moving Day are therefore forward planning, communication and coordination. This has become even more important with the complexities of COVID-19.

Will COVID-19 regulations change anything?

Although the rules under level 2 have been relaxed a bit, everyone involved in Moving Day still needs to make sure they are doing everything needed to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

Although farmers don't need to submit a formal plan around how they will manage COVID-19 risks on Moving Day, they are urged to keep the number of those involved to a minimum and maintain physical distances to 1 metre, as well as adhere to all the other Government regulations.