Farmers have been assured that there will be no issues regarding milk collections over the coming weeks due to measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

Director of Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) Conor Mulvihill issued a statement highlighting that the industry’s priority will be in ensuring that processing will continue without interruption.

The director said: “We have been in close contact with the key departments here in terms of ensuring the supply chain remains robust.”

He added that dairy processing is understood at all levels of Government to be “essential business“.

With milk production in Ireland moving into its peak months very soon, the key issue for the dairy industry is to keep milk processing facilities open.

“Milk is a perishable product and I want to allay any fears that farmers may have over their milk being collected in the coming weeks,” the director said.

Mulvihill explained that strict Covid-19 protocols have been put in place by every dairy processor around the collection of milk, with a focus on minimising person-to-person contact.

The director also assured that both the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have strongly communicated that food distribution and processing is totally safe.

Continuing, he said: “The dairy industry is very aware of the threat posed by the coronavirus.

“Dairy and specialised nutrition businesses will support the measures announced by Government this morning to effectively address and limit the spread of Covid-19.

The dairy sector is a critical part of the rural Irish economy and the industry has put in place detailed protocols to ensure milk continues to be processed through any escalation in the coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.

Mulvihill said that DII “will continue to engage with all companies on a daily basis to ensure a coordinated approach is applied”.

Outlining his satisfaction with how advanced processor preparations now are, the director noted that processors have “been engaged in very detailed business continuity planning to deal with various scenarios” over the past number of weeks.

“We will continue to work with colleagues in food processing and in Ibec, and know that safeguarding the protection of public health and well-being remain the outstanding priority for all societal stakeholders at this challenging time.

Irish dairy, as one of the country’s largest indigenous industries, will take a strong leadership  role and support whatever measures are required to address this unprecedented public health challenge.

“While we acknowledge that there will be severe disruption to enterprise and the state in the aftermath of today’s announcement, we will be working with the authorities to ensure the collection, processing and storage of dairy and specialised nutrition continues in the face of these challenges,” Mulvihill concluded.