A BEEKEEPER has been left separated from hundreds of his hives near Wagga after having an application for a permit to cross the border declined.
Matt Gledhill lives in Pine Mountain, just south of the NSW-Victorian border, while his 300 beehives are currently located outside of Griffith.
When the borders closed, Mr Gledhill applied for a working permit to cross the border and tend to his roughly $50,000 worth of bees, but his request was declined.
"My bees were at Uranquinty, and I only just moved them to the other side of Griffith to do some almond pollination at the start of last week," he said.
"I had permits and everything to do that, everything was done by the letter of the law, then last Thursday night all permits got cancelled due to the stage 3 restrictions being introduced."
The Mountainbee owner said he tried to apply again on Friday last week, but was told by Service NSW he couldn't apply until Monday afternoon.
After trying again, he was told the only way he could get through would be for the almond producer to apply for a permit, then Mr Gledhill would need to fly to Sydney and travel to his bees from there, taking the same route home.
"They were sympathetic, but it just doesn't make any sense, it seems less risky if I was just allowed to go straight to them across the border rather than going to Sydney where more cases are anyway," he said.
While the business side of things was a concern for the beekeeper, it wasn't the driver for his desperate attempts to cross the border.
"I understand heaps of businesses have had to close, so it isn't about me wanting special permission to keep mine going, it's an issue of animal welfare," he said.
"I can't tend to my bees, and ideally I need to be looking for somewhere to move them onto in two weeks when the almonds are done, plus it's coming into the season where biosecurity laws state we have to do full hive inspections in the next month or so.
"I imagine it's not just me either, there'd be heaps of people with livestock out of reach needing to be fed and tended to, and it isn't right that we can't do that."
Mr Gledhill said he was holding out hope for restrictions to ease to a lower stage by three or four weeks.
"I hope I will be able to try again and get that permit soon, but to be honest, if that doesn't happen, I am going to have to take it to the next level and get the RSPCA involved, because this is an issue of animal welfare," he said.
Independent Member for Indi Helen Haines has been actively tracking the concerns of border residents.
"The deep connections between our border communities are not understood by central governments in our capital cities," she said.
"In trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the NSW Government has created a new health crisis on our border because of its appalling lack of consultation."
In other news:
NSW Farmers have also been actively pushing for those in the agricultural sector to be allowed to cross the border.
The organisation is calling for a dedicated agriculture permit system, and is liaising with the Minister for Agriculture, Adam Marshall, who is seeking approval for such a system.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said the recently agreed code for the freight sector has the capacity to be expanded to agricultural workers, contractors and farmers with farms on both sides of the border.
"We do recognise the important intent of the border closures to suppress the spread of COVID-19, but these hard measures are having a major impact on the agriculture sector, food production and the economic health of regional NSW," he said.
"Dairy farmers must milk every day, fruit and vegetables must be harvested when ready and ongoing pest and disease management for livestock and broadacre crops is critical.
"Any delays due to requirements for residents outside of the defined border region to fly from Melbourne to Sydney and self-isolate for 14 days places routine farm management activities and animal welfare at risk."