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Jerry Long - ICOS President

ICOS President, Jerry Long, speaking after a specially convened meeting of the board of ICOS (held by conference call) said that unity and co-operation between farmers and Co-ops would be vital to our industry and our people surviving the crisis which is facing us.

He welcomed a strong commitment given by Co-op leaders to work together as a sector to ensure the continuation of operations during the Covid-19 outbreak, whilst protecting the health and safety of staff, customers, suppliers, members, ensuring the continued supply of food, and protecting animal welfare.

He said he was heartened to see the huge efforts being made Co-operatives to ensure social distancing, and encouraged co-op stores and marts to continue to work to protect the health of all stakeholders.

He issued a very strong call to farmers to work with co-op staff to implement social distancing. “Customers should order product 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 distance between customers, use the disinfectant provided, be patient as everyone is doing their best to protect us all from this disease.”

He continued “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 reiterated the critical nature of the work carried out by ICOS members. “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”.

He also called on the government, banks, and the 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 food service 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.”