Sheep Producers Australia chief executive Stephen Crisp has commended the work of the processing industry in its dealing of coronavirus-associated shutdowns.
In the last couple of weeks, a handful of Victorian processing facilities have been closed down as outbreaks of COVID-19 emerged on-site.
Mr Crisp said he was relieved that processors were able to work with authorities to re-commence operations, including the JBS plant at Brooklyn which re-opened this week.
"The re-opening of the JBS plant shows that multiple regulatory authorities can work with large processors to ensure a swift response and enable business continuity," he said.
He said the unplanned closures of these sites had caused significant ramifications that had to be dealt with.
"The welfare of the sheep is the first priority, and processors have done well to ensure all sheep are fed and watered at holding yards," he said.
"The impacts feed through to the transport companies that have changing schedules, the sheep producers who are managing delivery curfews, and Meat Standards Australia requirements."
He said there were thousands of people that worked in the meat processing industry in Victoria.
"The impact of closing processing plants will further impact our sheep producers who are already seeing declines in lamb values with temporary reductions in processing capacity," he said.
He said the red meat and processing sector had invested tens of thousands of dollars in high level equipment in terms of sanitisation and sterilisation since late January.
"The whole supply chain takes its role as an essential service seriously," he said.
"The regulators at both a state and federal level have worked together very well to date.
"SPA is assured that efforts are being re-doubled to ensure the regulators can collaborate and prevent more disruption than necessary.
"For its part, the whole supply chain must ensure all directives are met with an enthusiasm to do whatever it takes to ensure workers are safe, and animal welfare is not compromised."
He said the most crucial part of the process was reducing the spread of COVID-19.
"As you reduce the spread of this virus in the community you reduce the threat of it coming into a facility and every other industry throughout Victoria," he said.