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The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is working closely with the Department of Health and with other Departments, as part of a whole of Government response to Covid-19. This means that the Department is taking all the precautions necessary to protect its staff and its clients, consistent with HSE advice, but is remaining open for business, prioritising the delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors. 

The Department has taken the necessary steps to ensure:

  • that producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open
  • that the Department can operate as effectively as possible during the current pandemic.

Keeping food and other processing facilities operational, ensuring that payments and commercial activities that are necessary to protect farm incomes can continue and that fishermen can continue to land fish and place them on the market are among the critical priorities for the Department. In many instances these activities depend on the Department’s ability to carry out its regulatory and inspection functions.

In this regard, the Department is sensitive to the understandable concerns that all citizens will have at this time. It is ensuring that its staff operate in accordance with protocols that follow HSE advice. This advice will evolve, and the Department will ensure that it continues to observe best practice in all its activities.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will continue to monitor the situation and is following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health and the HSE in relation to COVID-19. We would remind stakeholders that they should continue to follow the advice being given by the HSE. In particular: only leave home where absolutely necessary; wash your hands regularly; cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough and sneeze; keep a social distance etc. Please keep up-to-date with the HSE website for further information.

The Department’s public offices are closed to the public for the present, however, a telephone information line to assist farmers with their queries in relation to current COVID-19 restrictions has been in place from 1 April and the dedicated phone number is 076 1064468.

The phone lines are open from 9.30am to 12.30m and from 2pm to 5pm.  A range of online facilities are also available.

As always, farmers should remember to observe basic biosecurity protocols and safety rules when working on the farm.

There is no reason for consumers to be concerned about continuity of supply of Irish food and drinks.  Senior Department officials met Food Drink Ireland on the 11th March, to discuss contingency planning for the food processing sector.  Food processors, along with all other businesses and employers, are implementing business continuity plans to deal with possible disruption. There are no food safety implications arising from Covid-19, and there is no evidence that the virus can be spread through food products.

The Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D.  and the Minister of State in that Department, Andrew Doyle, have also held meetings with key stakeholders and Agencies across the agri-food, fisheries and forestry sectors this week as part of the implementation of the Government’s Action Plan on Covid-19. The meetings focussed specifically on maintenance of key supply chains across all sectors.

Senior officials are in constant contact with the relevant stakeholders.

On 19 March, Minister Creed chaired teleconferences with dairy and meat industry CEOS and representative organisations to discuss contingency planning and priorities.

Participants were briefed on the ‘whole of Government’ response to Covid-19 and more specifically on the measures put in place by DAFM to try to ensure the continuity of vital services to the sector. Challenges faced by Industry in the short and longer terms were discussed and the existing strong co-operation both within the sectors and with DAFM was stressed. All parties committed to continuing to work together to protect the essential food supply chain.

Minister Michael Creed thanked the sectors for their constructive approach to the challenges faced and said, “My Department and agencies are implementing business continuity plans to provide the essential services necessary so that producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open”.

Senior officials are in constant contact with the relevant stakeholders.

DAFM Update on COVID-19 to Beef Taskforce May 2020 (pdf 192Kb)   

Interim Guidance on COVID-19 Outbreaks in Meat Factories in Ireland


The delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors is being prioritised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the course of the pandemic. Farming, fisheries, forestry, food and beverage production, and ancillary services, have been designated as essential services in the context of the current public health emergency.

Necessary steps have been taken to ensure:

  • that producers and processors can continue to operate effectively and keep supply lines open; and
  • that the Department can operate as effectively as possible and in particular to retain capacity and capability to respond to any animal health, animal welfare, plant health or food safety emergency.

In the longer term, there may be significant economic impacts for Irish business, including the agri-food sector, arising from reduced demand in key markets around the world. A range of supports for businesses have already been announced by the Government and is available at , including the SBCI Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme, which is co-funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. This loan scheme will make working capital available to impacted SMEs, including food businesses.

Farmers and fishermen, along with other workers who are required to self-isolate, or are diagnosed with Covid-19, may be eligible for social welfare support. See:

Critical Measures

  • Keeping food and other processing facilities operational has been a priority. This keeps the supply chain moving, ensures that farmers and fishers have an outlet for their produce, and maintains economic activity in the rural economy;
  • The Department has agreed protocols to allow marts to continue to operate, albeit on a limited and controlled basis, so that sales could continue, and is working to finalise further protocols to allow a further extension of mart services in accordance with the Government roadmap (8th June);
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has increased budget for the Calf Investment Scheme from €1.5m to €4.0m, to ensure that farmers have facilities to care for extra calves on farm;
  • An additional €20m was made available in supports for the suckler beef sector in Budget 2020. More than 15,000 applications have been received to date;
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine brought forward GLAS balancing payments worth €26m by a month, to provide vital cashflow to 42,300 farmers;
  • Measures for handling scheme applications and payment processing to take account of movement restrictions and flexibilities have provided at EU level to ensure payments can be delivered on time. At this stage, more than 97,000 applications have been received by the Department for the Basic Payment Scheme and this is about 7,000 ahead of this time last year;
  • Following an initiative at EU level led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the EU Commission has provided €76 million across all Member States for Aids to Private Storage for Dairy, Beef and Sheep Meat. This will provide EU support for the storage of product that cannot be put on the market because of the collapse of food service and hospitality outlets;
  • The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine is in ongoing discussions with the European Commission about the need for the deployment of further Common Agricultural Policy support measures;
  • In relation to fishing, the EU Council & Parliament have now adopted a Commission proposal to allow additional flexibilities in the spending of Member States existing European and Maritime Fisheries Fund allocations, to address the specific Covid related challenges in the Fisheries & Aquaculture sectors;

A temporary voluntary fleet tie-up scheme for fishing vessels in the Polyvalent, Beam Trawl and Specific segments of the fishing fleet. Eligible vessels will be supported to voluntarily opt to tie up for one or two of the next three months, operational from 1st June 2020 and availability will be extended to the inshore fleet and to larger vessels.  The Scheme will be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20, co-funded by the Government of Ireland and the European Union;

  • Supports for the seafood sector are also in place for fishermen, seafood processors and aquaculture farmers in terms of capital investment, business advisory services and marketing supports;
  • Many of the horizontal supports available to individuals/businesses are available to the agri-food sector, including:
  • the Covid-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme –food SME’s and mid caps are eligible for competitive working capital loans under this scheme;
  • the Future Growth Loan Scheme provides long term investment capital, including for farmers, fishers, and food SMEs;
  • Microfinance Ireland provides a working capital option to Farmers, fishers and food businesses;
  • The expanded Credit Guarantee Scheme, which was announced by the Minister for Finance over the weekend, forms a major component of the Government’s strategy to aid SMEs in these difficult times and will also be available to provide credit support to farmers and fishers;
  • Bord Bia has provided an additional €1m Covid-19 Response Marketing Package for food businesses to accelerate eCommerce and expand marketing activities;  
  • Teagasc is setting up a Regional Farm Labour Database that would link farm families where a farmer or a farm worker becomes ill with COVID-19, with an available relief worker. This is being done in collaboration with the Farm Relief Services (FRS), and with the support of the farm organisations IFA and ICMSA;
  • Teagasc, in coordination with DAFM and DEASP, has provided a platform for horticulture producers to advertise seasonal job opportunities to those on the live register;
  • The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has established a dedicated Covid-19 information line is in operation along with an up-to-date list of Frequently Asked Questions is maintained on the Department’s website to assist customers.

Other government supports COVID 19 

For more information, here are some helpful links:

World Health Organisation (WHO):

Health Service Executive (HSE):

Health Protection Surveillance Centre:

Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine statement 13/03/20

Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation

Department of Social Protection and Family Affairs

Taoiseach's National Address 17/03/20:

Department PR on Meeting with Stakeholders from Fishing Industry