Farmers have sought clarification on whether urgent construction projects can go ahead on farms, as “essential services” that people can travel to and from, during the lockdown period.
In the Dáil last week, Limerick County Independent TD Richard O’Donoghue said many farmers are under severe pressure to get construction work done on their farms, in preparation for the fast approaching silage harvest.
“There is a knock-on effect. If they do not have their farm buildings finished by the end of the summer, they will have the same problem in the winter when they need to put their cattle indoors.
“At the moment, contractors will not go on site, because they say they are waiting for a directive to say it is essential work.
“All farming is essential work.
“All farm buildings constitute essential work.
“Social distancing can be maintained 100%, but all farming work involving the food chain must be considered essential work.”
Mr O’Donoghue said farmers were contacting him on a daily basis who are trying to get work done.
“In terms of all farming work for the harvest season, a measure should now be implemented to ensure farmers have full rights to get materials to complete their work.”
“Under environmental regulations, farmers are obliged to lay silage slabs, work which had to be postponed for the last number of weeks. They are now being told by some people in government that they cannot get concrete or other basic materials to do this work, while others are telling them they can go ahead. We need clarity on this issue.”
Responding to Mr O’Donoghue, Health Minister Simon Harris said: ”If there is confusion as to what is appropriate, safe or essential, I will engage with the public health officials in my department and correspond with the deputy to provide clarity in that regard.”
Today in the Dáil, which is operating with reduced hours and restricted access currently due to Covid-19, TDs will have the opportunity to put questions to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed and Business Minister Heather Humphreys.