UNCERTAINTY surrounding the repercussions of a state-wide lockdown announced on Wednesday last week put the primary industries sector into a spin during one of its busiest periods.
But eventually, the sector was able to breathe a sigh of relief, after the industry was deemed an 'essential service' and work continued.
Saleyards across the state in particular were thrown into "mayhem" though, as uncertainty about its immediate future clouded whether planned markets could go ahead.
With major sheep and lamb markets scheduled for the Thursday at Jamestown and Naracoorte, Nutrien Ag Solutions agent Shannon Jaeschke said it was too late "to pull the pin".
"We already had more than 4000 penned because sheep arrived on Monday - it would have come at a significant cost to everyone if the market was postponed," he said.
"It was a strange scenario and even though we always have a COVID-19 safe plan in place, in the immediate, it was hard to see how the market was going to go ahead."
Limited numbers of agents and processors attended the market, but despite the lack of buyers present, prices were not affected.
"AuctionsPlus underpinned the sale completely," Mr Jaeschke said.
Pinkerton Palm Hamlyn & Steen agent Richard Harvie agreed the sudden restrictions caused some chaos.
"It was mayhem for livestock trading and abattoirs - no one had any idea what was happening," he said.
"The government needs to have protocols in place and ready to go for primary industries - they have had nine months and for an entire industry to be in the dark, causes big repercussions.
"It was late Wednesday night and abattoirs did not officially know if they were allowed to kill the next day - you cannot just start up and shut down those places in a flash."
Elders Dublin livestock manager Matt Ward said agents were scrambling late last week to get a market at Dublin organised.
"We just did not think it would happen after such drastic restrictions," he said.
"Though we had reduced numbers at Dublin because vendors held off organising carriers because of uncertainty - there was too much risk of a financial loss."
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Shearers dealt confusion in SA lockdown
THE shearing industry stopped overnight in the wake of last week's strict COVID-19 restrictions in SA, after the threat of border closures and shed shutdowns caused "panic" within the industry.
South East Shearing's Richard Rees, a contractor based at Mount Gambier, was one of many in the industry that were left with uncertainty following the announcement.
"Basically, I had about seven shearers walk out after lunch because of panic about the shutdown and also concerns if NSW borders would be closed," he said.
"Sheds at Luncindale and Kingston SE were shutdown - there was a lot of confusion about whether or not they were allowed to be working or not."
After hours of correspondence, Mr Rees had confirmation that the shearing sector was able to continue as an 'essential service' under the lockdown restrictions.
"I spent hours calming the boys down and getting a clear picture of what was happening, but we got there in the end," he said.
Mr Rees said the sector had a solid COVID-19 management plan in place, but after the announcement last week, farmers in the district supplied documentation for shearers to outline their essential service role.
"It was to clear up any confusion if shearers were pulled over by the police on the way to work during the early stages of the lockdown," he said.
The disruption from the lockdown has delayed SE shearing by about two to three days.
Header wheels kept turning
TEN days into harvest at his Washpool property, cropper Shawn Cadzow was left with no choice but to keep the "wheels turning" after the lockdown was announced last week.
Despite planning ahead with chemical and spare part supplies months ago, Mr Cadzow was left with some concerns when the latest restrictions were announced.
"Even though I knew the rules exempted agriculture, there were a few concerns, particularly machinery breakdowns," he said.
"A lot of businesses were not able to open if the lockdown continued or if they did, farmers could not go into the business themselves and parts were dropped off at the gate - it just made things harder."
Mr Cadzow uses a grain carrier during harvest so he was "confident" he was able to continue working as per normal.
Mr Cadzow was also pleased the circuit breaker was cut short, but said farm life would have continued on regardless.
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