President of the ICMSA Pat McCormack
IN LIGHT of the unprecedented challenges facing the country posed by Covid-19, the president of ICMSA has added his voice to those calling on all residents to heed the advice of the relevant state agencies and take the precautions deemed necessary at all times.
Pat McCormack said the country is in a very serious situation and farm families, like all sectors in society, will play their part in the fight against Covid-19. Mr McCormack described the challenge as “huge and, quite literally, a matter of life-and-death for those most vulnerable”. He said we would all need to make sacrifices at this time and apply all the required protocols.
“In terms of food production, the importance of food security has come to the fore in recent days and people can rest easy in the knowledge that Irish farmers will continue to deliver high quality food to Irish and EU consumers and it’s obviously critical that the links in the food supply chain are protected in the coming days and weeks. We’re ready and happy to do our best and our best is very good indeed: Irish farmers have the ability to feed 70m people annually and this critical industry must be supported in ensuring continued production and delivery of high quality food to our consumers and fellow-citizens,” said Mr McCormack.
From a farming perspective, Mr McCormack said that, like all businesses, it is imperative that farmers ensure that the number of visitors to their farms is kept to an absolute minimum and only essential services are allowed access to the farm for the foreseeable future. In this connection, he said it is ICMSA’s view is that farm inspections should be kept to a minimum and in the event of a farmer requesting that an inspection be postponed on health grounds, the request should be respected.
“In relation to schemes’ closing dates such as the BPS/ANC and nitrates derogation, the Department of Agriculture should immediately extend the closing dates and should also apply simplifications to procedures aimed at minimising contact between people. In the hopefully infrequent event of visitors on farms, farmers should apply the social distancing requirement where possible and disinfecting facilities should be made available and used at all times,” he continued.
From a financial perspective, Mr McCormack said it was already perfectly plain that individual families and businesses will come under huge pressure in the coming weeks and there is a duty on both our banks and indeed the Revenue to support people in what are unprecedented times.
Concluding, Mr McCormack said that we must all observe the protocols set down and the systems operating in relation to farming should - where possible - be amended to reflect these protocols.