IFA President Tim Cullinan said the presence of clusters of COVID-19 in a number of meat processing plants is concerning.
“The priority must remain the safety of everybody working in the sector, both inside the farmgate and outside it. It’s important that measures are in place to protect those working in plants. The processors should continue to work closely with the HSE,” he said.
“While there are very real concerns regarding clusters of COVID-19 in some plants, the vast majority of processing facilities have had few or no cases. Processors are going to great lengths to ensure the safety of their workers,” he said.
“It’s important that the processing sector continues to function. The food chain needs to stay moving and provide fresh produce to consumers. We need to avoid a build-up of animals on farms which could result in animal welfare challenges,” he said.
“Farmers also need income during this very difficult time. While prices have been dropping, with beef prices being particularly badly hit, it is important that farmers can still sell their animals and have some form of income,” he said.
“Given the importance of the food chain, there would be merit in making workers in the sector a priority for testing, after health care workers,” he said.