||Are feedstuffs a potential vector for contamination risk?
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has stated that it is unlikely that food is a source or transmission route. Feedstuffs are therefore not suspected of being a potential vector of contamination.
The ECDC and the OIE have made clear that the predominant route of transmission of COVID-19 appears to be from human to human. IGFA therefore recommends that all advice from the public health authorities is respected, that feed company personnel (including those involved in feed deliveries) pay particular attention to this advice and that all feasible precautionary measures are taken.
||Is there a risk of supply chain complications leading to feed shortages? If feed is not recognised under the status of “essential goods” in the EU COVID-19 guidelines, what could be the consequence for continuity of supply?
Some Member States, like Spain, Italy and Belgium, have already included feed supplies on their list of essential goods. This should be the case in all member states and a harmonised approach adopted across the EU. Although we are not expecting that, without this specific recognition large scale disruptions will occur. IGFA believe that in times of crisis clear, unambiguous communication is needed. Animal feed is a critical business from a human food point of view and also in terms of animal welfare. All ports are still open and raw materials are still generally available.
||Has the transport of feed been disrupted due to COVID-19?
It is crucial to maintain open borders for all agri commodities to safeguard essential feed and food supplies. This is even more important in periphery ports, for example in Ireland, the UK and some parts of southern Europe, which are more dependent on imports.
The transport sector is also facing a shortage of truck drivers due to understandable health concerns. IGFA calls for specific action to be taken to provide protective equipment for drivers who transport food and feed raw materials. Measures should also be put in place to provide drivers with relevant documentation confirming that they play a key role in ensuring the EU’s food security. This would help prevent border control and local police from prohibiting the transportation of the goods to destination.
||Why is IGFA calling for the addition of feed to the EU Commission Guidelines on Border Management?
The guidelines published by the Commission on March 16th are greatly welcomed, but they fail to appreciate the fact that some food products, although not perishable, are essential to ensure food supply to the whole population in these difficult times. At the same time, livestock must also be fed in order to provide some of the key food products consumed by the population, such as milk. Some Member States, like Spain, Italy and Belgium, have already included feed supplies on their list of essential goods, but what we need is a harmonised approach at EU level. The European Commission needs to introduce coordinated, cross-European measures that will restore the regular flow of essential goods, including feed and food throughout the EU.
||Are there feed companies that have voluntarily closed their factories?
IGFA is not aware of any feed company that has decided to close its entire operation as a precautionary measure, linked to COVID contamination. Feed companies are committed to serve the livestock farmers, especially in these difficult times. Animal feed is a critical business from a human food point of view and also in terms of animal welfare. All mill and retail stores are for the moment fully operational.
||Does feed enjoy priority status for transport and cross-border trade?
IGFA and its supply chain partners are working on obtaining a specific reference from the EU competent authorities to assign priority status to feed transport and cross-border trade of feedstuffs. Animal feeding practices must not be disrupted as this could have a detrimental impact on the food supply chain.
||Are there specific instructions for employees in the feed sector?
People are always advised to follow COVID-19 instructions from their own competent authorities. Irish feed mills have been taking precautionary measures in the past number of weeks and are proactively implementing business continuity plans in case of worsening circumstances in the COVID-19 crisis. We are asking farmers to please help us to ensure that these plans are workable and effective.
||Should livestock farmers be concerned about deliveries of feed being disrupted?
Livestock farmers are advised to discuss their requirements with their feed supplier and avoid over-ordering, as this could create pressure in the supply chain. Farmers should plan ahead and place their orders in time, but there is no need to overorder. At the point of feed deliveries, human contact should be avoided as much as possible, respecting the instructions on social distancing. Livestock farmers are therefore advised to leave clear delivery instructions (e.g. bin signage) and remove any obstacles. All livestock farms will be served with deliveries whether the farmers are affected by COVID-19 or not.