IFA President Tim Cullinan said IFA has made a formal submission to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue in relation to marts operating under the current Level 5 restrictions.
IFA highlighted that in 2019, some 385,000 cattle were sold through Ireland’s marts in the months of October and November.
(See below the numbers of movements of cattle from the 2019 AIMS annual report)
The IFA President said this is a critical time of year for our suckler, beef and sheep farmers in the market place and it is vital that mart sales function fully over this very busy period.
The IFA President said the online bidding system has bedded down well in some marts as a supplementary system to a presence of buyers in the ring. However, there are huge concerns about marts operating exclusively under this system, and in particular at this time of year when throughput is at peak numbers.
IFA has set out the following key points in the submission to the Minister:
- The platforms being used to run sales have been working well, but what happened on Saturday when one of the online systems went down shows the risk of operating using this system alone.
- The poor-quality broadband is also a contributor to the difficulties for marts and farmer buyers with an exclusive on-line sales system.
- Not all buyers are comfortable using this system and there is a concern that they will not be active bidders. This could reduce the number of bidders and affect the integrity of the market.
- Mart rings are generally very spacious, with high roofs and numerous openings with good airflow.
Against this background, IFA has again called for the facilitation of a strictly limited number of buyers around the ring, with full Government guidelines for social distancing and the wearing of masks applied.
IFA Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden said, “We recognise this is a difficult time for all businesses. However, given the essential nature of providing an effective market outlet for cattle and sheep at this time of year, the current measures must be reviewed and a limited number of buyers allowed at the ringside to ensure sales proceed and the market functions openly and transparently,” he said.
He said farmers have played their part in the national efforts to-date in dealing with this pandemic and will continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner.