Funding has been announced for livestock marts for ICT infrastructure, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has revealed.

The news was announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue this morning (Monday, March 1).

This follows news of this funding allocation first mooted in November.

Livestock marts can apply to the department for a grant of a maximum of €5,000 to cover 50% of expenditure by a mart on ICT infrastructure, under the Marts ICT Infrastructure Scheme 2021.

In his announcement, Minister McConalogue said: “Each year, nearly three million cattle and sheep are sold through livestock marts. Maintaining viable sales outlets for livestock is vital to ensuring that the agri sector and the food supply chain are fully functioning.

“I must pay tribute to marts and farmers for their swift adjustment last year to online sales that Covid-19 public health measures has made necessary.”

“Now the longer term vision for the sector must be considered. Even when the Covid-19 situation allows for a return to in-person attendance at marts, online sales will continue to be a significant feature.

The blend of online and in-person sales and are good for competition as more people have an opportunity to bid on livestock than could attend a sale on a mart’s premises.

Marts must ensure that they have high quality ICT infrastructure in place to facilitate online sales in their operations, the department says.

The closing date for receipt of applications is November 15, 2021. Marts may only apply once for a grant, the department concluded.