Border closure unlikely to affect ag

Vic-NSW virus border closure is unlikely to disrupt agriculture

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COMMON SENSE: Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria president John Beer says he feels common sense will prevail.

COMMON SENSE: Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria president John Beer says he feels common sense will prevail.

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Few fears for agriculture, over COVID-19 border closure.

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LIVESTOCK agents and transporters say the impending closure of the border between Vic and NSW is unlikely to have an adverse effect on their operations.

Vic Premier Daniel Andrews announced the border will close from 11:59pm tonight.

He said it was a joint decision between himself, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

"The closure will be enforced on the NSW side, so as not to be a drain on Vic resources, that are very much focused on fighting the virus across our state," Mr Andrews said.

Ms Berejiklian said a "special permit or exemption" would be needed to enter the state from Vic.

She said she didn't have any confirmation there were no cases in regional Vic.

Mr Andrews apologised to anyone who had unavoidable travel to NSW.

"There will be a facility, for the people who live in those border communities to be able to travel to and from, for the purposes of work, for the purposes of essential health services they might need," he said.

"I think it is the smart call, the right call, at this point in time, given the very significant challenge we are facing, in containing this virus."

A new daily Vic record has been set for new coronavirus confirmations, with 127 cases confirmed on Monday morning.

There is now 645 active COVID-19 cases in Vic.

Thirty-four of the new cases are linked to confirmed outbreaks, 40 were discovered through routine testing and 53 cases, from the towers, were being investigated.

Numbers in the North Melbourne and Flemington towers had doubled since yesterday.

Mr Andrews made no mention of whether or not agriculture would remain an essential service, but those associated with the livestock industry said they believed the border closure wouldn't have a major impact.

There'll be a prime cattle market, at Barnawartha, Wodonga, Vic, tomorrow and a store sale on July 9.

Although half the stock for the regular sales was drawn equally from NSW and Vic, agents said they didn't expect any problems.

Michael Unthank, Brian Unthank Rural, Albury, NSW, believed agents would be given permits to cross the border "to do our everyday jobs".

"It's more the tourist side of things that's affected," he said.

"I'm not making the rules, but I wouldn't think there would be issues - I hope not, anyway."

David Meehan, Corcoran Parker, Wodonga, Vic, said he imagined the border would remain open for essential services.

"If that's the case, it won't make much difference, the buyers are still going to come," he said.

Restrictions at saleyards had been eased, but had been reintroduced, after the spike in Melbourne.

"The people that need to get in, can get in," Mr Meehan said.

In a perfect world it would be good to have vendors seeing their cattle sold - and buyers to be there when stock went under the hammer, he said.

"We are making it work, you just have to," he said.

Rodwells Wodonga branch manager Peter Ruaro said he hadn't been notified as to the status of this week's sales, but 1400 head had been booked in for tomorrow.

"We have a special sale on Thursday and as far as I am concerned, it's business as usual," Mr Ruaro said.

"We are just continuing on, as normal. That's what I have told a few people who have inquired; we are an essential service.

"It didn't stop us last time when the restrictions were imposed, so I hope it doesn't, this time around."

NSW Farmers said it was imperative agriculture was deemed as essential service and that the closure has exemptions in place to reflect this.

Its president James Jackson said the exemptions to the border closure should be modelled off those used in Qld earlier this year.

"Border communities are set to be hardest hit by this change but there are also several commodities in NSW that will be impacted through possible constraints on freight and access to processing plants, feed and other necessities," he said.

"These factors were recognised in Qld when its border restrictions were being ironed out. Important exemptions were made for freight and logistics and for border communities.

"The permit system created an easy way for essential services to travel across the Qld-NSW border, and this should be installed at the Vic-NSW border as well."

Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Vic president John Beer felt common sense would prevail.

"I think it will be much the same as SA," he said.

SA closed its borders to Vic on March 24, only allowing essential services to cross into the state.

"I would reckon you might have to do a bit of paperwork as to where you have been and where you are going," Mr Beer said.

But he expected the situation would be handled in a similar way to that with the SA shutdown.

He stressed drivers should travel alone.

"Don't put passengers in your truck, just go as a sole driver," he said.

"I know, in Qld, they were looking for passengers, so don't take passengers, no family, or nothing like that, go by yourself and you will be right."

The story Border closure unlikely to affect ag first appeared on Stock & Land.

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