Dairy

Virus won’t stop tanker drivers from collecting milk

By Country News

Rob Falconer has worked at Fonterra for 13 years and has continued to drive milk tankers throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re an essential service, so no matter what, you have to pick up the milk and the job just has to be done,” the Kyabram resident said.

“In the morning we completely sanitise the truck for the change of drivers; the gear stick, dash, handrails — everywhere we touch — and then head off on our run from farm to farm.

“We sanitise around the area before and after we pump the milk out of the tanker, and we get rid of the gloves that we put in a waste bin at the end of the day.”

Although it is repetitive, Mr Falconer knows it is what needs to be done and said it had now become second nature.

“It’s become routine now and sanitising is a really important part of it; when we're out on the field you come in to contact with so many different things."

At 67 years old, Mr Falconer is at a high-risk age if he were to contract COVID-19, but he said he felt secure thanks to the protocols put in place.

“Fonterra is a great company to work for, they’ve brought in a strict protocol which shows they really care about their drivers."

Mr Falconer said Fonterra tanker drivers pick up milk from all over northern Victoria and deliver the milk to the company’s factory in Stanhope.

“When it (coronavirus) first arrived, we were a bit edgy about our role being all over Victoria, but that went away once the protocols came.”

Mr Falconer said he rarely saw farmers on the properties he visited, as they were also doing their bit to keep everyone safe through social distancing.

Dairy farmer Toni Pierce from Bamawm Extension said she bought cleaning products, including sanitiser, so that her workers could practice safe hygiene and wipe equipment down.

“We haven’t found it too big of a challenge, we’re one of those businesses where cows still have to be milked and crops still need to be planted,” she said.

“Our full-time worker used to come to my house for lunch but now they eat it in their ute.

“The biggest thing for us is that it brought two of our children home.”