Dairy Industry Ireland has welcomed the government’s publication of essential service employee list.
They say it gives flexibility for Irish dairy and specialised nutrition.
Director of Dairy Industry Ireland Conor Mulvihill commented after the announcement of the list: “We are happy that government listened to us. All reasonable requests have been achieved.”
“There was full recognition of our role in delivering dairy and nutrition products here in Ireland and in international supply chains. During the week, Dairy Industry Ireland issued a template letter to members that will satisfy tonight’s requirements.”
“We wish to especially commend the staff and families of our businesses who have given enormous commitment to keep all facilities running.”
Mulvihill also warned that there remained significant challenges ahead for the industry and suppliers:
“Irish milk supply volumes are increasing towards the seasonal peak off our grass base. This peak unfortunately almost exactly overlays the peak the HSE are projecting for the Covid-19 virus. The industry is collaborating with all stakeholders to make every possible effort to ensure that all milk produced on farms can continue to be processed.”
“As part of proper contingency planning, and with reference to HSE modelling of likely cases and the consequent staff absentee rates, the industry scenarios now include a material disruption to throughput at key processing locations,” he concluded.
Once-a-day milking 'not helpful'
IFA President Tim Cullinan stated he had full confidence in dairy co-ops to continue processing all milk during the COVID-19 crisis.
He said that the dairy processors should have the capacity to cope with supply and that a change of farming practices was not needed.
“The reality is that our grass-based milk production system is seasonal, and we are at maximum output in May. However, our dairy co-ops have invested in the extra capacity to handle this. Talk of once-a day-milking is unhelpful and impractical,” he said.
“What we really need is an EU scheme to help co-ops across Europe to store processed product, known as Aids to Private Storage (APS), as there may be short term challenges in the market place where some markets are more difficult to access due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
Cullinan concluded by saying “I am confident that if we all work together, and with some support from the EU Commission through APS support, we will get through this crisis.”