Examining the mart’s role in the locality

The role of the local mart and its place within the community in which it serves, is one that can never be underestimated.

The role of the local mart and its place within the community in which it serves, is one that can never be underestimated.

This week in a special video documentary on www.longfordleader.ie, the Leader examines the role of the mart in society and its significance within the agri sector.

Marts have become part of the fabric of rural Ireland since their establishment in the 1960s and have brought farmers and rural dwellers alike, together on a patch of common ground where information and new ideas can be shared.

Chairman of Ballymahon Mart, Eamon Higgins said that the facility in the south Longford town brought “town and country together” and was imperative, because neither could survive without the other. “The Mart is the centre place of activity and everyone comes into town where they shop, eat in the restaurants and basically carry out all their business for the week, on mart day,” he added.

Last week when the Leader paid a visit to Ballymahon Mart, it very quickly became evident that the mart is at the centre of the local agricultural cocmmunity. Trade is at the heart of proceedings but the mart is also a social occasion - a chance to catch up on the week’s events, to discuss the topics of the day or keep up to date with the latest happenings in the agri industry.

Longford’s IFA Livestock Chairman, Paul Ross was also selling a few cattle on the day and it was he who told the Leader all about the significance of the mart which lies in a rural area along the Longford/Westmeath border on which Ross, himself, grew up.

“The mart here in Ballymahon sells weanlings on a Tuesday and then the heavier animals on a Thursday and it plays a vital role in the community in this area,” Mr Ross added.

“People come into the town on mart day and they spend money – they buy in the shops; hotels and restaurants all get a boost and what’s more, mart day is regarded is a very social day because, farmers can become quite isolated at times, what with working on their own day in and day out, so the mart provides farmers with an opportunity to meet up with each other and chat with their friends, share information and learn more about all the latest developments in the industry.”

During the day, the Leader also spoke to a number of farmers from counties Longford and Westmeath who were endeavouring to by and sell top of the range bullocks and heifers on the day. They raised a number of concerns when looking at the overall state of the industry including the breakdown of the CAP negotiations, health and safety on farms, bureaucracy and the negative impact that reductions to single farm subsidies are currently having on the sector. “Farming is gone very pressuring now,” one farmer signed. “Costs are gone sky high, for example feed costs have gone up by one third this year alone – that is very significant.”

Full interview from Ballymahon Mart will be available to view on www.longfordleader.ie from Friday, December 7, 2012.