Buyers may return to marts, while adhering to public guidelines, from Monday, May 17, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has confirmed.
The decision was made at a meeting of the cabinet yesterday (Thursday, April 29), the minister said.
Online trading will continue to be facilitated, alongside the return of in-ring buying.
Buyers may attend the sales ring and view stock in pens. However, this must be done by prior appointment with the livestock mart.
Buyers who wish to be present at ringside must wear face coverings and adhere to strict 2m social distancing.
Marts must also prevent the congregation of members of the public in the mart carpark or at entry ways into mart buildings.
Marts must operate according to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) which have been approved by their Regional Veterinary Office.
It is important to note that cattle throughput from January 1 to March 14, 2021, was at 94% of the comparable period in 2020. Sheep throughput in the same period was at 100% of the comparable period for 2020.
Commenting on the decision, Minister McConalogue stated:
“Following approval at a meeting of the Cabinet today, I am pleased to announce that livestock marts may facilitate in-ring buying from May 17, once it is done in a safe manner and is compliant with all national Covid-19 public health guidelines.
“The return of in-ring buying will continue to be augmented by the facilitation of online sales which have worked exceptionally well during this challenging time for all of us.
“The move to online-only platforms in October has proven to be an excellent way of trading cattle and sheep, with strong throughput, coupled with steady prices over this time. In fact, online sales have been proven to reach a much higher number of farmers and agents than the traditional in-person sales.”
“Most importantly, I know that the move to online-only sales has played a major role in helping to reduce the number of Covid-19 cases for Ireland.
“I am looking forward to this significant progression towards a blended approach of online and in-ring sales, which will continue into the future.
“I again commend the work of mart managers and farmers for engaging so meaningfully with all public health guidelines in recent months.
“Your heroic efforts have helped to ensure the continuity of live trade while, most importantly, keeping our communities safe.”