IFA National Dairy Chairman Tom Phelan said IFA had been contacted by numerous worried farmers, who have observed on social media the consequences of COVID19 in other countries, where the milk of some farmers is having to be disposed of.
“Dairy farmers here can take a great deal of heart from the fact that our industry is driven by the co-operative ethos our forefathers had the foresight to choose for our sector. Our co-ops have a strong track record of collaboration at peak to cope with processing capacity difficulties, which occur every year. They also process our milk mostly into long life, storable commodities, not products destined for the food services trade, which is temporarily closed,” he said.
“I do not wish to understate the seriousness of the challenge posed by COVID19 to the entire food industry, dairy included. But I know from ongoing, bi-weekly contact with stakeholders including processors, that they are working very hard together on contingency planning. At this point of the season, all is going as well as possible,” he said.
“Staff working in our plants and truck drivers collecting our milk are all working very hard and farmers appreciate this. Farmers are also playing our part to ensure the safety of all. Management are working to anticipate staffing issues by training additional employees to do critical jobs, they are redirecting milk to a different plant where necessary, and I am very clear that all are committed to doing everything possible so that every drop of milk is collected and processed through peak and beyond,” he added.
“I have asked all co-ops to communicate in detail, regularly and frequently with their suppliers so they understand the specific challenges being encountered and how they are being dealt with by their co-op. We are all in this difficulty together, and we need to work hand in hand with our co-ops to ensure the sector can come through the challenge of the pandemic,” he concluded.