Even though the spread of coronavirus has put the world in a much different situation, life at Valio dairy farms goes on mostly in the same way as before. How is the continuity of milk production secured during the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus?
Valio dairy farms are operating in the exceptional time much in the same way as they regularly do. The hygiene requirements are always strict, but naturally even more careful hygiene practices are followed during exceptional situations so that the people working at the farms stay healthy.
“Animals must be cared for and milk delivered every single day – whether an exceptional situation or not. What is different for this situation is the even more detailed hygiene guidelines, the social distancing, and taking care of your own health. Close contact with the milk truck driver is avoided, and people aren’t staying on site to chat like they might normally do. The number of outsiders visiting the farm is restricted to a minimum. Special precautions are taken with veterinarians, artificial inseminators and relief workers who regularly visit the cowsheds also during exceptional times by keeping an adequate distance between people, by sanitising hands and equipment, and by using rubber gloves for protection, for example,” says Valio’s Herd Health Veterinarian Kristiina Sarjokari.
Aino Wathén, proprietor of the Toukola organic dairy farm located in Hausjärvi, says that everyday life is pretty much the same as before. The farm’s 51 cows are producing organic milk every day.
“The only clear difference is that the family’s school-aged children are now studying from home. But life on a dairy farm revolves around family and farm work anyways, so having the children studying from home hasn’t brought a big change to the pace of everyday life. Now that also the children’s hobbies have been suspended, the family spends more time together at home. Fortunately, there is plenty of room for being active in our own yard,” notes Aino Wathén.
There are 4,700 Valio dairy farms around Finland, the northernmost being in Utsjoki, Lapland. The majority of the farms are located in the Ostrobothnia, East Finland and North Savo regions. In fact, in terms of Finland’s food supply, it is vitally important that the dairy farms are dispersed around the country and primarily further away from the densely populated areas in southern Finland. The production plants are located in different parts the country, which also helps to neutralise the impacts of the epidemic.
“Finland is in a special position because of its robust domestic food production. This is certainly important in this kind of exceptional situation, and I have noticed that many milk producers consider it important that they are producing food for common food supply,” Aino says.
Even though the coronavirus initially originated from an animal, it isn’t transmitted from people to animals and thus isn’t a cause of concern for the health of cows.
“Most important is to take care of the people right now so that the food chain – from farm to plant and from plant to store – functions,” Kristiina Sarjokari sums up.
4,700 Finnish dairy farms own Valio, and we pay all the profits from our operations to the dairy farms.