It is absolutely essential that farmers and milk technicians strictly maintain a distance of two metres at all times, Milk Quality Ireland has said. It also warned that farmers should allow the technician to complete jobs alone, where possible.

Milk Quality Ireland aims to improve milk quality standards in Ireland and to ensure that Irish milking machine installation and testing standards equate with the best international standards.

On Sunday, it wrote to registered milking machine technicians in relation to the new Government guidelines published over the weekend to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Eamonn Farrell, secretary of Milk Quality Ireland, said: “The Government has stated that food production and care of animals is an essential service.

“Members of the Milk Quality Ireland register of milking machine technicians and bulk tank engineers are essential workers. Their work involves the maintenance of milking equipment, which is an essential service, integral to the functioning of the milk production supply chain.”

Saving lives

He stressed that the Government guidelines are aimed at saving lives.

“Farmers, milking machine technicians and bulk tank engineers must ensure the work required over the period to 19 April is necessary and urgent and that when work is being completed the strictest possible protocols concerning physical distancing must be adhered to,” he said.

Contact the farmer

The body has advised milking machine technicians and bulk tank engineers prior to entering the farm to contact the farmer by phone, enquire discreetly with the farmer if he or any members of his family have COVID-19 virus or is self-isolating and to agree and confirm by phone that strict physical distancing will be followed during the farm visit.

The technician should then travel alone to the farm, where possible, and ensure their vehicle is clean, stocked with gloves, disinfectant and hand sanitiser and so forth.

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