Farmers with poor broadband ‘must not be forgotten’ when it comes to online selling

Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural and community development Claire Kerrane has urged Taoiseach Micheál Martin to address the issue of poor broadband impacting mart operations online.

From midnight (Wednesday, October 21), mart operations will be allowed to continue on an online basis under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.

Deputy Kerrane says that farmers with poor broadband “must not be forgotten”.

“We need to support farmers and farm families now more than ever and therefore, I have asked for there to be limited access for buyers in our marts,” the deputy said.

The move online for marts is welcome and for some farmers, it suits them and it worked well previously. However, the reality is many farmers have no access to a computer – let alone broadband.

“There has to be due consideration for farmers who are in rural areas where the broadband infrastructure is simply not there.”

‘Marts have gone above and beyond’

The deputy said she spoke with a mart manager yesterday (Tuesday, October 20), who said the facility’s internet is “extremely poor”.

“Furthermore, farmers at home and buyers simply do not have the broadband to participate,” the deputy continued.

“I appreciate we can’t have concessions for everything in relation to these new restrictions, but we are talking about farmers’ livelihoods. We need to support them and their families at this most difficult time.

Marts have gone above and beyond to ensure that social distancing is in place and so I would ask that you look at this and that this issue is reconsidered.

Deputy Kerrane has also written to the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue seeking some leeway for farmers at socially distanced and reduced numbers where they cannot access online sales.