Farmers urged to stay vigilant in fight against Covid

With the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, farmers and crofters have been reminded that those working in the industry are not immune from the disease – and have been urged to reinforce their precautions against catching and transmitting the disease.

Urging all in the sector to avoid complacency and keep up their guard and re-visit the guidance for farmers and crofters produced by Scottish Government, NFU Scotland president, Andrew McCornick this week said: “The virus is invisible, and you cannot tell who has it or is transmitting it, but you can and should take measures to reduce infection by observing the rules during this, yet another, challenging lockdown and making it hard for the virus to find any host to spread and survive.”

And he warned that producers needed to be constantly vigilant for themselves, their families and their staff – and for the sake of their very businesses.

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Stating that the industry was used to taking precautions to preserve animal health and wellbeing, he said that similar precautions and approaches should be extended to human health.

“Many farmers and crofters are experts at biosecurity. Many have good biosecurity measures in place and that puts them in a good place for dealing with the virus,” he said.

Encouraging everyone to revisit and consider their biosecurity measures, he said that good practices such as limiting the number of people having access to the farm and recording who came on – and when they visited –were things which everyone should be doing.

McCornick, who farms in Dumfries and Galloway, said he had seen the number of cases in his area climb considerably in recent weeks – and that the infection levels which had initially been higher in towns and cities were now much more prevalent in rural areas than they had been earlier in the year.

“We also need to plan for the worst while hoping for the best by having a contingency plan for scenarios where yourself, your family or your workforce get infected or required to self-isolate,” he said.

But he also said that essential farm staff continued to be recognised as key workers – and if they had to travel to the farm it was advisable to provide them with a letter showing that the journey was essential.

McCornick said that the union had stood by its pledge, made at the outset of the pandemic, to keep food and drink on the table – and that has been delivered from farmgate to shop shelf through hard work and adhering to the rules.

He said: “Keeping our markets, abattoirs and processing going throughout the Covid-19 outbreak has been a major achievement – but this new variant of the virus and the latest spike means the need for compliance is even more essential if we are to avoid closures or partial shutdowns at these essential sites.

“Do not consider this virus an inconvenience. It can be, and has been, fatal for many families so please be considerate of others as well as yourself and obey the rules.”