When Victoria declared a state of emergency on Monday, premier Daniel Andrews flagged the possibility of quarantining entire suburbs.
It sparked widespread concern from farmers on social media and United Dairyfarmers of Victoria president Paul Mumford stressed the importance of transport.
“The government has to make sure the dairy industry can function and we’ve got to get our product to processors because it’s perishable,” Mr Mumford said.
“With this new state of emergency, animal welfare and transporting of farmers’ product and commodities has to be a high priority.
“We have to have the ability to look after our animals, feed our animals and to send our products.
“Farmers need some sort of leniency if there is a lockdown of districts.”
Mr Mumford said it was a high priority in discussions with government.
Australian Dairy Farmers policy and strategy director Craig Hough said he expected milk tankers would continue to move freely.
“My understanding is that, when it comes to things like tankers, they want to keep the supply chains open as much as they can, particularly those that don’t involve people-to-people contact,” Mr Hough said.
“Tankers picking up milk should not be a problem because we don’t have road closures, we still have factories working and it’s an essential food source.
“I guess the concern is more about production inputs, like machinery, coming from countries that are affected but the extent of that is unknown.”
Stockfeed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia executive officer Duncan Rowland said coronavirus was unlikely to disrupt stockfeed deliveries.
“Our advice is the quarantine areas will be likely large population centres, not the regions,” he said.
“It’s an essential type of transport because of animal welfare, so the government couldn’t have that hanging on their heads.
“No-one’s talking about blockading.”
In an email on Monday, Saputo Dairy Australia asked suppliers to observe basic hygiene measures and keep communication open.
“Should you, or any of your employees display COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, shortness of breath, or enter a period of self-isolation, please contact your local IBL / Transport team immediately so we can arrange appropriate steps for milk collection,” the email said.
McColls Transport has written to customers pledging to continue collections.