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“Speaking this morning after a board meeting held by conference call late on Monday night, ICOS President Jerry Long said that it is vital, throughout this national public health emergency, that we can preserve our agri-food supply chain in its entirety.

“There are a huge number of vital services required to keep our safe food production system running; we need feed, fertiliser, fuel, veterinary supplies, animal movement, milk recording, artificial insemination, milking machine service and repair, hardware supplies and so on.

“Our farming businesses are quite complex operations now, and the authorities must recognise that fact when we inevitably move towards tighter movement restrictions. Co-op stores moving to a call and collect model, increased emphasis on delivery direct to farm, all farmer communications moving towards phone and email only, demonstrate that our supply chain is one of the tightest in the economy, and that we can and must preserve it intact so that we can continue to feed the population.
“It’s also important to note that in both New Zealand and the UK, which have declared general lockdowns in their economies, they have recognised and preserved the place of the agri-food supply chain, with those key services being maintained, while maintaining best practice in physical distancing”.

Jerry Long was given a strong mandate by the dairy and agri co-ops to emphasise to the Minister, on a conference call later this afternoon, that the sector can and will continue to produce top quality safe food, while protecting the health of staff, farmers, and the public. In addition, Mr. Long said that he would be calling on the Minister at tomorrow’s Agriculture Council meeting to put in place Private Storage Aid for dairy products, to allow the sector to put aside the product that is now surplus, following the near collapse of the food-service industry, as well as an Export Credit Guarantee scheme to counteract the market uncertainty resulting from low oil prices.

He also emphasised the importance of implementing emergency supports for the beef sector, suggesting that intervention at a realistic price level should be instigated immediately to prevent a price collapse.