Teagasc: vital that the food supply chain keeps moving

Agriculture vital to overcoming current global pandemic

Kilkenny People Reporter

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Kilkenny People Reporter

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Kilkenny

At the launch of Green Spring Barley Scheme were Tommy Keane, Irish Distillers, Conor McQuaid, CEO, Irish Distillers, Brian Rushe, Deputy President, IFA and Mark Browne, National Grain Chair, IFA

President of the IFA, Tim Cullinan, has asked the public to be particularly conscious of biosecurity on farms at this time.

“Farms are a vital part of the food distribution system. We need the highest level of biosecurity measures in place,” he said.

“Farmers will have their own biosecurity measures to facilitate the collection of their produce, and to receive deliveries of feed and care for their animals.

“I am asking members of the public not to call to farms. Those who have business on farms should call strictly by appointment only.

“Members of the public should avoid entering farms for leisure activities such as walking, shooting or hunting,” he continued.

“It is absolutely vital that we keep our food supply chain moving.

Many farms will be in trouble if the farmer falls ill or if people involved in processing or transporting produce or supplies become ill or have to self-isolate,” he said.

“At this time, we simply cannot be careful enough. Irish farmers not only feed over four million people here, but we provide raw materials that feed over 30 million in other countries around the world.

“It is critical that the Irish, European and global food supply chains remain in operation to ensure that people can continue to have access to proper nutrition in order to maintain a balanced diet,” he said.

Teagasc advisory offices are open for prearranged appointments only and for staff who are unable to work from home.

Each Teagasc location will set up one bio-secure office for essential one-to-one consultations.

This will involve a double desk with a clear Perspex divider and a computer with two screens.

Clients will be asked to wait in their cars to prevent contact in waiting areas and where essential clients may also have to sign forms in the office parking area.

All Teagasc Basic Payment appointments will now be processed over the phone rather than an office consultation. Teagasc staff will contact farmer clients in the coming weeks. BPS application for clients, in so far as possible, will be done over the phone.

All appointments to get derogation plans completed for farmers will be processed over the phone rather than in an office consultation.

Prior to application submission clients will be asked to signify agreement to the application through email or text. Teagasc staff will contact clients to make arrangements.

On farm, Teagasc farmer discussion group meetings are being replaced with one hour phone meetings between farmers and their advisor.

Farm visits by Teagasc advisors are taking place at the clients request and only for urgent issues. Social distancing and hygiene protocols will be adhered to. Visits for programmes where work can be completed with no contact with the farmer will continue.

The Teagasc agriculture and horticulture colleges and education centres are closed to students in line with the government decision that schools and third level colleges close over the period 13 March to 29 March.

Teagasc education staff, where practical, are working remotely. In the event that the closure of all schools and colleges is prolonged, Teagasc is arranging that guidance for self-study of theory elements of courses will be communicated through online channels.