Reopening of marts for essential services welcomed

The reopening of livestock marts for a limited range of essential services, while complying with Government guidelines regarding the Covid-19 outbreak, has been welcomed by TDs Michael Fitzmaurice and Marian Harkin.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed made the announcement, saying that new measures will allow the sale and purchase of animals through the livestock marts in order to support the essential business of farming.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said that the decision will ease some of the pressure on farmers. The Roscommon-Galway TD said: “With grass growth picking up, this is traditionally a time of year when livestock changes hands in marts. Farmers would have planned for this income stream, but no one could have predicted the impact this virus would have.

“While it may not be business as usual when it comes to livestock marts, at least farmers who had planned to sell cattle or sheep at this time of year to improve cashflow can do so.

“By reopening marts, even on a limited basis, farmers are being given another option to market their livestock during these uncertain times.

“It should also facilitate the sale of calves and allow exports to continue, at a time when thousands of calves are being born on dairy farms across the country during the busy spring period”.

Independent TD Marian Harkin said that she is pleased and relieved to see new measures being put in place. “There is a sense of relief among the farming community right now that livestock mart management have been issued with guidance to allow them to reopen the livestock marts on a limited basis.

“While normal auction activity cannot resume for now, livestock mart managers may be able to use their systems and facilities to put in place alternative trade facilitation mechanisms, provided of course they comply with HSE guidelines on social distancing, etc.

“This limited reopening of livestock marts services is an essential step in maintaining the food supply chain and it will help to relieve some of the pressure on farmers”, Deputy Harkin concluded.