Online-only system for marts ‘is too ambitious’

The government needs to review the Level 5 operating procedures in marts as a matter of urgency, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting, IFA president Tim Cullinan said: “The system went down in several marts this morning [Saturday, October 24] which caused huge issues as the cattle were already in the marts waiting to be sold.

“The reality is that relying on the ‘online only’ system is too ambitious. The system has been bedding down well as a complementary system to bidding at the ringside.

However, clear challenges have now emerged related to broadband and the ability of systems to cope with the volume of cattle and bids during what it a hectic time of the year.

“Some buyers are also not yet comfortable with the online system, and farmers are concerned that the market will not function fully as these buyers will not be bidding,” he said.

“Everybody is doing their best, but the protocols need to be reviewed to allow a limited number of buyers around the ring,” he said.

Continuing, the president said:

The autumn trade is crucial, and it would be hugely disruptive if trade could not continue or if the market was compromised.

“I have contacted the minister again this morning. We need to allow some level of in-person trading once social distancing and other [Level 5] guidelines are fully and rigorously followed,” Cullinan concluded.