Dairy sector needs Covid-19 vaccine before peak milk season – Browne

With the season of peak milk production set to start in a few months, a Tipperary TD has called on the Agriculture Committee to write to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue to bring to his attention to the need for vaccinations to made available to the sector by that stage.

Deputy Martin Browne said: “We have to ensure that when peak milk production gets underway, that our dairy processors are not vulnerable to staffing shortages or similar workplace issues due to Covid-19, which could have a severe impact on production.

Deputy Martin Browne

“This level of assurance is equally as important to other processors, all of whom are vulnerable to the impacts of Covid-19, and the minister must take note of this.”

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed that over 77,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Ireland up to yesterday (Wednesday January 13).

Flexibility on farm requirements

The Sinn Féin TD also wants the minister to consider some flexibility towards farmers who have to meet a vast range of requirements, “yet who are limited in terms of the assistance they can acquire”.

“For example, some farmers may experience difficulty in securing contractors for fencing, roads and other works they may need to carry out to satisfy the requirements of the new Nitrates Action Programme which came into effect on January 1,” deputy Browne said.

There’s also the issue of on-farm inspections. For some farmers, who may be classed as vulnerable, on-farm inspections right now would mean that they would have to engage with someone outside of their Covid-19 bubble. We can’t allow such situations to happen.

“So, the minister needs to show some flexibility when it comes the demands being made of famers right now, while our processing sector needs the protections to guarantee their output is not interrupted.”