Don’t let ‘social distancing’ become ‘social isolation’ – IFA

March 24th, 2020 11:45 AM

By Emma Connolly

Drinagh Coffee Shop, Skibbereen have closed the eat in part of their coffee shop with takeaways still available. Photo: Anne Minihane.

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THERE has been a growing global demand for milk and dairy products as the coronavirus crises escalates, due to the EU-wide message that these are nutrient-dense foods.

The IFA’s Munster director Harold Kingston said that people are moving away from stockpiling dry goods such as pasta, and towards milk, and also meat.

The EU on Tuesday agreed to close external borders for 30 days, but they are setting up fast-track lanes at internal frontiers to ensure goods, including produce from here, can still move across the continent.

Harold warned that it wasn’t a time for people to start demanding exorbitant prices for goods, and for proper fair play to be adhered to.

That warning for fair prices, he said, extended to processing factories as he said there was a serious risk of the price of cattle dropping.

Covid-19 is currently impacting  the agri community through mart number restrictions, including at Bandon and Skibbereen – but different sectors are preparing for restrictions to ramp up.

It was announced on Tuesday that all European Union countries can now choose to extend the deadline by which farmers must submit their applications for Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments.

Member states can now opt for a new deadline of June 15th, instead of May 15th.

Meanwhile, bookings for trade stands for the National Ploughing Championships this September can usually be made around this time, but they have been deferred for around a fortnight.

Teagasc advisory offices are also only opening for pre-arranged appointments and, importantly, all Teagasc Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and nitrates derogation appointments will now be processed over the phone rather than an office consultation.

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said that faced with the global crisis, it was clear how important our food production system was to our everyday lives.

‘The work that people in the food sector do is critically important,’ the minister said.

‘At a time when there are significant restrictions in daily life, it is important to record our gratitude to those whose continuing work ensures that the people of Ireland can continue to rely on the quality and safety of Irish food.’

During these uncertain times, the IFA is urging all members to look out for each other.

President Tim Cullinan said: ‘We should be conscious that older famers and those with underlying medical conditions might be concerned about going to shops or co-ops.

‘This is where neighbouring farmers could be a big help by collecting supplies for them and dropping them to the farm or helping them out if they are short of help,’ he said.

Harold, a Courtmacsherry based farmer who has been vocal on mental health, added: ‘To all the busy farmers this spring, please don’t let social distancing become social isolation.’

For more on how farmers can protect their mental health, see our farming magazine with this week’s edition.

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