Marts ‘can still arrange for marketing of animals’

Farmers seeking to buy or sell livestock have been urged to contact their local mart manager as marts “can still arrange for the marketing of animals”, according to the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

In a statement this evening, Tuesday, March 24, the co-op mart representative group gave its reaction to the Government announcement earlier today that marts are to close amid ramped-up measures to clamp down on the spread of Covid-19.

“The Government’s blanket closure of all marts is disappointing given that the marts, that had remained open, had put significant effort and finances into staying open in a safe way while still enabling farmers to trade their animals,” the ICOS statement said.

Highlighting that co-op marts are owned by farmers and exist for farmers, the organisation said:

We urge any farmer wishing to buy or sell livestock to contact their local mart manager as we can still arrange for the marketing of animals, albeit as the Government has decreed, we cannot market them through the physical auction sales ring.

“Marts have significant contact databases of buyers and sellers and we have a long and proud history of honouring payments to farmers.

“We will continue to offer these services to farmers. ICOS mart managers will be considering how we can best serve our customers during this difficult time.”

The association also urged the Government to reconsider its proposal on reducing Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) retention periods “as a matter of urgency”, adding:

“If marts are now closed to a minimum of April 19, then complying with the current seven-month retention period will be a problem.

This would allow farmers a longer time-frame to purchase the animals needed to comply with the stocking density requirements of the scheme, greatly assisting their economic viability.

“Basic payment schemes and ANCs will never be more critical for farmers to comply with in order to secure these payments and the Department of Agriculture should prioritise this change immediately to alleviate this situation,” the ICOS statement concluded.