Minister’s mart grants news welcomed by ICOS

A new grants scheme in the pipeline which will support marts following on from the ongoing pandemic crisis has been welcomed by the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS).

Commenting, Ray Doyle, livestock and environmental services executive of ICOS, said:

“Our understanding is that grants of up to €5,000 per mart will be made available and our recommendation is that this should be used to cover technology upgrades to further strengthen online trading capability, and any associated costs.”

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Continuing, Doyle claimed: “This follows long and varied discussions that we have had with Minister [for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie] McConalogue and the department.

We are grateful to Minister McConalogue for bringing forward this scheme which recognises the valuable role of marts as centres of competitive trade in livestock for farmers and rural communities across Ireland.

“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.

“Internet-based trading is now an integral part of the mart business with many benefits for farmers, including convenience in normal times and enhanced health and safety during the current pandemic.”

Stating that a blend of online and in-person bidding is the fairest and best auction process for livestock, Doyle added:

It enhances access and interest in the sales process which is good for overall competition, yielding fair market value for buyers and sellers which has always been a benefit of trading through the marts.

“We had also stressed to Minister McConalogue that the marts industry must have as quick and as safe a return as possible to having farmers physically present around sales rings.

“We will welcome the forthcoming alleviation of restrictions while continuing to stay vigilant and observing all necessary protocols,” the ICOS executive concluded.