Covid-19 restrictions: Farmer questions answered

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has outlined answers to a number of frequently asked questions on the impact of current Covid-19 restrictions on Irish farming.

In a detailed statement on its website, the department has answered key questions farmers may have, including: do restrictions apply to farmers, will the department be issuing letters certifying essential workers and can farmers move animals.

First off, reiterating its stance on farming, the department confirmed that while the key message for everyone is to stay at home, there are exceptions for providers of “essential services”, which include farmers and those involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production or the care of animals and related activities.

Farmers do not need certs but should carry one form of identification if stopped by Gardaí, the authority added.

Farm workers, on the other hand, should carry a letter from their employer or a work ID, as well as another form of identification.

Meanwhile, to the question: “Can I move my animals / can I move my animals more than 2km?” the department said:

Yes. The current advice is that you can move animals as part of the business of farming, which is an essential service.

“There is no restriction on the distance; however, one should reflect on whether such movement is actually essential at a particular point in time,” the department added.

Moving on to the related question of: “Is transporting a mare for breeding purposes considered an essential service?” it was noted:

“Yes. Currently there is no restriction on the movement of animals within the country for farming purposes, including for breeding. Health Service Executive (HSE) public health guidelines must be observed at all times.”

The department also confirmed that knackery animal collection services and veterinary visits are both essential services and can continue at this time, while the supply of fertiliser and lime, as well as animal feed, is also permitted.

Regarding farm contractors, the department said: “Farm contractors can continue to provide essential services to farmers such as slurry spreading.

“However, routine tasks that are not immediately critical should not be undertaken. It is a matter for contractors to make decisions as to whether specific tasks are essential or not at this time.”