The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) president, Jerry Long, has said that unity and co-operation between farmers and co-ops would be “vital” to industry and people surviving the current crisis.
Long spoke after a specially convened conference call meeting of the board of ICOS.
The president welcomed a strong commitment given by co-op leaders in working together as a sector to ensure the continuation of operations during the Covid-19 outbreak, whilst also protecting the health and safety of staff, customers, suppliers, members, ensuring the continued supply of food and maintaining animal welfare standards.
He said he was heartened by the huge efforts being made by co-operatives to ensure social distancing. He encouraged co-op stores and marts to continue their work to protect the health of all stakeholders.
The ICOS president issued a very strong call to farmers to work with co-op staff to implement social distancing. “Customers should order products from co-ops by phone, for delivery if possible, be as organised as possible, call less often to the store, collecting more product per visit, abide by staff guidance regarding the distance between customers, use the disinfectant provided, be patient as everyone is doing their best to protect us all from this disease.”
“Co-op leaders reiterated the need for marts to remain open during this crisis, whilst implementing the strict social distancing protocols and controls in place regarding numbers attending the mart,” he continued.
Maintaining the economy
The critical nature of the work carried out by ICOS members was reiterated in his statement.
“We need to ensure that the economy keeps working. We have to keep generating revenue to pay for the heroic work being done by our state services.”
“We need to keep producing clean fresh food for our customers, in Ireland and overseas. It’s vital that the supply chains within the food industry can continue to operate, within the current advice issued by our health authorities.”
Long has also called on the Government, banks, and EU authorities to be creative and brave to facilitate liquidity within the supply chain. “There are huge disruptions currently to the supply chain, with the foodservice business decimated.”
“We need to ensure that all players across the supply chain; distributors, hauliers, service providers, can have access to credit to allow them to survive what could be several months of business disruption,” he concluded.