Alexander Döring, secretary general of the Brussels headquartered, FEFAC, said in terms of compound feed delivery in the EU, there have been some challenges to date.
“Problems have been signaled [in relation to] cross-border deliveries of compound feed due to lack of protective gear for truck drivers,” he reported.
However, he told this publication there have been no EU feed production plant shutdowns linked to COVID-19 so far.
“National feed industry associations are preparing capacity sharing arrangements in case such a situation arises in order to safeguard farm deliveries,” added Döring.
Feed needs to be declared 'essential good'
Given the dramatic consequences of the spread of COVID-19, the priority of the whole food and feed supply chain is to strictly comply with EU and national instructions to prevent further dissemination of the virus among its employees, suppliers and customers, said FEFAC, along with COCERAL and FEDIOL, in a joint statement.
They are calling for the inclusion of feed next to food in the list of essential goods mentioned in the EU Commission Guidelines on Border Management, published on Monday [March 16].
“The situation is critical because the more these restrictions persist, the more the risk of shortage for food companies is likely to materialize at any level of the food, feed and livestock chain, thus challenging the European population access to regular supplies of food. Farm animals must be fed every day in order to provide key food products consumed by the population and to ensure animal health and welfare. Some member states, like Spain, Italy and Belgium, have already included feed supplies on their list of essential goods, but we need a harmonized approach at EU level.”
In addition, the trade groups are urging EU and national authorities to take swift action to ensure that all food and feed, even if not perishable, can be transported across the EU unhindered as long as all required health safety measures are respected.
The decision to close the EU outside borders to contain the propagation of the virus should not apply to vessels bringing in the food and feed raw materials that are in short supply in the EU – again, as long as they take every necessary health measure to ensure the health of all actors in the food and feed supply chain, said the three organizations.
“As traders of agri commodities, our mission is to ensure the supply of the raw materials and ingredients that are needed by farmers, the food sector and the feed industry for direct use and further processing. We source from European producers, moving agri goods across the EU and exporting the surplus, but we also import the raw materials for which the EU is in deficit. We have been watching disruptions in the food and feed supply chain increasing in the last few days and are very concerned about future developments as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.
"The EU needs to protect the health of all operators in the chain so that they continue to ensure the uninterrupted supply of food and feed,” cautioned COCERAL president, Philippe Mitko.
Weighing in on the topic, FEDIOL president, John Grossmann, stressed that in order for processing plants to continue providing consumers with vegetable oils and livestock with protein meals, essential goods need to continue arriving to facilities, which requires imperatively essential agricultural raw materials to be transported to and across the EU.