The ICSA and ICMSA have called for all meat factories to quickly move to paying for livestock by electronic fund transfer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ICSA beef chairman, Edmund Graham, said the option of electronic fund transfer of monies should be on offer to all farmers “in order to minimise unnecessary trips to the bank to lodge cheques”.
“Obviously, the farmer would still get a kill sheet but the farmer would also have the option of this by e-mail,” Mr Graham said.
“Overall it would be more efficient and lead to money being in the farmer’s account quicker,” he added.
“In the current circumstances it is really important to find new ways of minimising the risk of Covid-19 spread, and ICSA is calling on all factories and marts to offer this facility if they are not already doing so,” Mr Graham said.
This view was supported by the ICMSA’s livestock committee chairman, Des Morrison.
He said the option of payment by electronic transfer by meat plants made sense from the perspective of saving time and on the grounds of reducing social contacts and therefore minimising the possibility of Covid-19 spreading.
“The reality is that all farm payments from the Department of Agriculture are already by electronic transfer and most farmers receive their milk payment by electronic transfer, and the system works very well,” Mr Morrison pointed out.
“It is ICMSA’s firm view that meat plants should immediately make available the option of electronic transfer of payments to farmers and so take another step in minimising social contact and slowing down the spread of the virus, as we are being officially requested to do this time,” he maintained.
However, the INHFA was not in favour of a move to electronic payments for all farmers, but said the option should be made available to those who wanted it.
“The reasoning for this relates back to the kill sheets and EID tag reading sheets which is critical information for farmers and information that they need,” the INHFA explained.
“As we understand in almost every instance this information goes out with the cheques to the farmers and will still be required. This defeats the purpose of direct transfers to farmers’ accounts as kill sheets and EID reading sheets will still have to be posted out unless the farmer has email,” the farm body claimed.
“But even then getting it set up will delay payments, and right now farmers need to know that payments won't be held up,” the INHFA stated.
“Lodging of cheques can be done at an ATM which doesn't require face-to-face contact,” it also pointed out.
A spokesperson for MII siad plants have procedures in place whereby farmers, if they bring the animals in themselves and wish to collect the cheque, can do so from the security kiosk.
"Strict protocols are in place for animal intake with farmers or hauliers asked to remain in their vehicles until unloading and to return to them immediately afterwards. There is no entry into the plant facilities at present. If farmers are not collecting the cheque, they are being posted out as usual. "