Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine taking steps to ensure livestock sales are facilitated

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Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine taking steps to ensure livestock sales are facilitated

Granard Mart Photo: Shelley Corcoran

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine is working with stakeholders on contingency measures, to ensure that, as far as possible, livestock sales are facilitated without the need for the normal attendance and auction ring process.

Marts play a central role in the orderly movement, traceability and sale of animals that is essential in securing food supplies, whilst ensuring farmers receive a fair market price for their animals.

Marts across the country have made significant efforts over the past week or so to reduce numbers attending and their efforts to put in place enhanced hygiene measures as well as social distancing in line with HSE guidelines.

It is understandable however that in the context of this major public health emergency that the practice of public auction of livestock - which is the business of livestock marts - has the potential, notwithstanding the efforts made, to attract a gathering of people which the National Public Health Emergency Team considered to be a risk that needed to be addressed.

Read also: MEP Chris MacManus says farmers need full support of state to face the disruption of Covid-19

The challenge now is to find other innovative methods that can facilitate the trade and movement of animals in a transparent and secure way.

Whilst no one measure can replace the public auction at a mart, we are exploring other ways in which trade in animals can be facilitated.

We are currently engaged with mart organisations to explore other options where they can facilitate trade other than by public auction.

A number of pilot initiatives have already been introduced, in respect of calf sales in particular.

In all matters, the public health concerns are primary – in this regard the DAFM is liaising with colleagues in the Department of Health.

A further update on discussions with all of the stakeholders involved will be provided in the coming days.

Read also: Longford farmers at a loss to sell their cattle as marts close