‘Overriding objective’ must be to ensure continued mart trade – Cullinan

The importance of continued mart trade throughout the period of Level 5 restrictions has been stressed from several quarters in the agriculture sector over the last number of days.

Today (Wednesday, October 21), Tim Cullinan, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), said that the “overriding objective for everybody” must be to ensure that mart trade continues to be facilitated in a live auction system.

He also highlighted that the autumn trade is “crucial and it would be hugely disruptive if trade could not continue”.

Marts provide essential services to farmers and the agricultural community, especially open and transparent market price competition and security of payment.

Cullinan said he had been speaking to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue in advance the government decision to move to Level 5, where he brought up these issues.

The IFA president called for the provision of viewing facilities for purchasers prior to sales to allow trade “to function in a transparent way”.

Every effort should be made to facilitate trading conditions that are as normal as possible, once social distancing and other guidelines are followed fully.

Cullinan acknowledged the work of Minister McConalogue and his officials in keeping marts functioning throughout the lockdown.

Meanwhile, IFA national livestock chairperson Brendan Golden stressed that “it’s important we all play our part in supporting the measures in place and that our service providers ensure the health and safety of their employees are catered for”.

Mart restrictions

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has officially outlined the Level 5 operating guide for marts around the country.

In a statement today (Wednesday, October 21), the department said:

“On October 19, an Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that Level 5 restrictive measures will apply as of midnight, Wednesday, October 21.”

In response, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has directed that from that time, livestock marts adjust their operations, as follows:

  • Sales rings are to remain closed – marts may facilitate online sales;
  • Marts must put a drop and go policy in place for sellers. This means that farmers or their representatives may deliver livestock to the mart by appointment and must then depart from the mart premises. Where feasible, farmers or their representatives should remain in their vehicle while on the mart premises, and mart staff should unload and load livestock and take passports;
  • Marts must arrange that individual appointment times are allocated to individual buyers to view or collect livestock. Buyers should attend the mart on their own, without accompaniment.