Farm machinery operators need to get ready for further Covid-19 restrictions – FTMTA

The Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) has said that members should start putting in place the same measures that were required during the previous ‘lockdown’ earlier this year, should further Covid-19 restrictions be brought in shortly.

The association says that the farm machinery industry remains an essential service as it was during the nationwide lockdown from late March 2020.

The FTMTA said: “The retail and distribution dimensions of the farm machinery industry are classed as an essential service in relation to parts, service/repair and delivery/installation and are allowed to operate in relation to these activities as long as the appropriate measures are in place.

“Agricultural machinery manufacturing is also an essential service.”

Level 4 or 5 restrictions

Should the government make a decision to move the country to Level 4 or 5 restrictions, the FTMTA said it’s necessary to look at how this will “impact on trade”.

Previously, operators in the industry were advised to remain operational ‘behind closed doors’; however, the association said it understands that there were some “practical difficulties” as a result.

The advice now from the FTMTA is as follows:

  • It should be possible at most premises to facilitate customer parking/waiting areas. In such cases, you need to discourage casual callers and congregating by customers and/or staff. Anybody coming to the premises under Levels 4 or 5 should be there for a specific business purpose and not to pass the time of day;
  • Take parts orders only by phone where possible. In the situation where the customer is not sure what exact part they need, deal with that at the counter, by arrangement if possible, and within the social distancing and hygiene framework;
  • Service/repair on farm is not an issue and can continue. Some jobs will need to go to workshops – but do not allow the customer into the workshop. Take receipt of the machine in the yard and sanitise all surfaces that will be worked on. Return of the¬†machine should¬†be done in the same way;
  • Delivery of parts should still be possible by courier but it may take longer than normal;
  • In relation to collections from the premises – handle in accordance with social distancing – give them a time to call and leave the parts out if it gets to a Level 4 or 5 situation. Get payment over the phone;
  • In the above scenario, never have two customers collecting at the same time. If possible advise the customers not to leave their vehicle until you tell them to do so and then leave the parts out or use a drop box type solution.

Sales of machinery

The FTMTA says that sales of farm machinery will still be possible in levels 4 or 5 but is advising members to keep sales conversations outdoors where possible and in a socially distant manner with masks on, if an indoor situation cannot be avoided.

The delivery of farm machinery will also continue and customers arriving at a premises for collections must adhere to strict protocol.

The association is urging businesses to ensure that everything is paid for before dispatch and that finance has been secured on whole goods.

In situations where it’s possible to work from home, the FTMTA is urging staff to do so as has been the case so far in Level 3.

“People put up with this inconvenience before and while we may all have gotten tired and fed up with things, they will have to do so again. There can be no place on the premises for somebody who will not comply with the public health requirements,” the FTMTA concluded.