IFA president, Tim Cullinan, has described the presence of clusters of COVID-19 in a number of meat processing plants as “concerning”.
He said processors are “going to great lengths” to ensure the safety of employees and should continue to work closely with the HSE.
“The priority must remain the safety of everybody working in the sector, both inside the farm-gate and outside it. It’s important that measures are in place to protect those working in plants.”
While there are very real concerns regarding clusters of COVID-19 in some plants, the vast majority of processing facilities have had few or no cases, he added.
Food chain needs to ‘stay moving’
“It’s important that the processing sector continues to function. The food chain needs to stay moving and provide fresh produce to consumers.”
“We need to avoid a build-up of animals on-farms which could result in animal welfare challenges,” he added.
The farm leader stressed that farmers also need income during this very difficult time. “While prices have been dropping, with beef prices being particularly badly hit, it is important that farmers can still sell their animals and have some form of income.”
“Given the importance of the food chain, there would be merit in making workers in the sector a priority for testing, after health care workers,” he added.