Efforts being made by the co-operative movement, and in particular, their management and staff on behalf of milk supplying members, to ensure that factories can continue to operate at peak have been lauded by the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

Following a video conference meeting this morning, Friday, April 3, ICOS president Jerry Long said that the ICOS board and co-ops are 100% united in their commitment to working together.

This he said includes pooling resources to ensure that all milk is collected, processed and paid for, while protecting the health and welfare of staff at this worrying time of national crisis.

Long noted that there is a long tradition of collaboration within the sector, adding “this will work in our favour as we endeavour to weather the storm that’s facing us”.

“We want to reassure farmers that all that is humanly possible will be done, and is being done, to keep the industry running through peak.

“Farmers, like every other citizen, are worried about their own health, that of their families and their communities, and we want to give them every possible reassurance about their milk supply.

“We will all be monitoring the development of this terrible disease over the coming weeks, and working to keep staff safe and operating as normally as possible.

If it becomes apparent that capacity could be constrained, farmers will be told, and if – as an absolute last resort – it becomes necessary to moderate milk supply by feeding calves or reducing concentrate feed for a temporary period, they will be told also.

“For now, however, all plants are operating normally, and farmers need to ensure that cows are in good condition for the breeding season, so that should be the priority on farms,” the president said.

Finally, Long called on members and patrons of co-ops to strictly follow the physical distancing protocols and HSE guidelines in place for milk collection and within local co-op branches.

“We greatly appreciate their support and cooperation.

“Only by working together will we protect the health and safety of all involved in the milk production supply chain, which is an essential service, vitally important for keeping the supermarket shelves supplied with fresh and nutritious food,” the president concluded.