Essential farm visits require diligence, says UFU
Wednesday, 18 March, 2020
The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging farmers to be extra careful when interacting with essential farm visitors. This includes milk lorry and animal feed drivers. Northern Ireland is taking measures to reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and it is vital that members are taking all precautions on-farm, as well as off-farm, to support these efforts.
Speaking on the matter of key farm visits, UFU president Ivor Ferguson said, “Milk collections and feed deliveries are an integral part of the daily routine on farms. So much so that our farmers engage directly with drivers without thinking about the interaction. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak we’re urging our farmers to make changes to how they would normally assist essential farm visitors. Farmers and drivers should heed Government recommendations about social distancing and ensure they’re always at least two metres apart. It is a simple measure which will make a huge difference in the battle against COVID-19.”
Milk collection is the most essential aspect of dairy supply and should remain uninterrupted. Dairy companies are keen to stress that there is a very limited number of milk tanker drivers with experience of on-farm milk collection. Feed delivery is also of the upmost importance as many livestock farmers depend on this regular visit.
The UFU is asking farmers to take on board the following advice concerning milk collection and the animal feed delivery process:
- Let drivers do their job in isolation and avoid unnecessary social contact
- Ensure that drivers have easy access to bulk tanks and feed bins
- Clear identification and signage on farms will assist new drivers
Livestock marts is another aspect of agriculture life that will involve change due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Marts across Northern Ireland are putting their own measures in place to help prevent the rapid spread of the infection. Farmers who are planning on visiting their local mart should visit their Facebook page or contact them directly to find out how the process of sales will be conducted.
Mr Ferguson concluded, “The agri industry needs to act now. We need to take every precaution we can to protect one another and help our healthcare professionals safeguard the people of Northern Ireland. By being extra careful as we carry out day-to-day farming tasks, we’re ensuring that the food supply chain operates without any glitches. Our farmers will play their part in tackling the biggest health challenge of our generation by continuing to produce quality food for the nation. Their commitment to food production will help ensure shop shelves remain stocked and consumers can purchase goods without difficulty.”