Mart operations under Level 5: How will sales proceed?

Mart operations will be allowed to continue on an online basis under Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions, which are set to be introduced at 12:00am tomorrow night (Wednesday, October 21).

Discussions between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and mart representative body Mart Managers of Ireland (MMI) took place last night.

According to MMI, the department has suggested a return to a scenario similar to that in March, adding:

However, we will be allowed to have a viewing time for purchasers – which MMI argued must be returned – and thankfully it has.

Sales can go ahead online, the mart managers representative body said; however, it notes that the department “suggested no ringside or live auction system”.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue confirmed the news on Twitter last night, stating: “Arrangement for livestock marts in level 5: Sales will move to online only.

“Sellers to drop animals off, buyers can be facilitated to inspect stock in pens by appointment, but bidding process is online only,” the minister added.

Broadband issues

MMI, in its discussions with the department last night, highlighted its concerns with the Level 5 guidelines, however.

“We have argued that case [last night] as some marts do not have online facilities as they have no broadband service and their local farmers need to be able to sell their livestock at this busy time of year when bills need paying and Christmas is just around the corner.

“No mart has been linked to any Covid-19 cases and marts have made huge efforts to keep numbers to a minimum,” MMI said.

Department officials also suggested sellers can be matched with potential buyers through adverts and such, similar to March.

“Discussions will continue [today] with a hope of reaching an agreement that suits all while protecting our farmers and communities.”