Farmers should be reassured that their local mart is open for business next week, according to the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

In a statement today (Sunday, October 25), the cooperative representative body commented on yesterday’s difficulties where a number of marts around the country were delayed and in some cases cancelled due to technical difficulties.

Commenting, ICOS outlined that online mart sales systems have been in operation in Ireland since early April and “hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep have been bought and sold successfully using the various online platforms”.

As with all technology, the systems are not foolproof and can experience problems. ICOS has been in direct contact with LSL, the software provider involved in the two-hour delay of mart sales in 16 mart centres yesterday.

The co-op organisation explained that the LSL server crashed “because of unprecedented traffic of over 30,000 people logging onto the system across all their mart centres”.

LSL has now replaced the faulty server and installed a triple redundancy system to prevent a reoccurrence of this issue, ICOS stressed.

Continuing, ICOS said: “The other remaining mart centres that were operating on other software providers operated very well yesterday without any glitches. Overall trade was marginally up on last year.

“All the main companies involved are striving to minimise the likelihood of a reoccurrence of IT problems over the remaining weeks of the level 5 restrictions,” the group said.

However, it warned: “IT systems failure is not a new phenomenon systems and networks can and do fail nationally and internationally, in private sector and in government systems.

After the LSL system was reinstated and throughout the other software providers that continued to operate on Saturday, mart trade for cattle and sheep remained positive, with mart clearances of over 95% and many mart centres recorded prices exceeding last year.

Even today ICOS was in active direct discussions with the Minister[for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue] on potential contingencies if this scenario is repeated but the reality is that from here on we will be dealing with internet based trading as it’s now an integral part of the mart trading platforms.

The mart body highlighted that the Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan “also needs to act immediately to provide emergency broadband services to marts, where deficient as marts are key essential services for the country”.

However we stressed to Minister Mc Conalogue that the mart industry must have as quick as possible and a safe return to having farmers physically around all mart sales rings as a blend of online and physical bidding is the fairest and best auction process for livestock, in this the busiest trading period of the year.

“Delaying this return until December could be detrimental to livestock farmers incomes,” the ICOS statement concluded.