Reopening of mart services ‘essential step in maintaining food supply chain’

The limited reopening of livestock mart services has been welcomed as an “essential step in maintaining the food supply chain” by one independent TD.

Marian Harkin, an independent TD for Sligo-Leitrim, said that the development will “help to relieve some of the pressure on farmers”.

“I am pleased and relieved to see new measures being put in place to facilitate the limited re-opening and operation of livestock marts,” Harkin commented.

Last Thursday when speaking in the Dáil, I stated that our response has been insufficient for the agricultural sector and that the beef and sheep trade has sustained an incredible shock.

“There is a sense of relief among the farming community right now that livestock mart management have been issued with guidance to allow them to reopen the livestock marts on a limited basis,” Harkin said.

She continued: “While normal auction activity cannot resume for now, livestock mart managers may be able to use their systems and facilities to put in place alternative trade facilitation mechanisms, provided of course they comply with HSE [Health Service Executive] guidelines on social distancing.”

Harkin explained: “This could involve sales where, by appointment, farmers could deliver calves to the livestock mart and orders for purchase could be matched.

It could also mean that a weighing service could be put in place for older livestock by appointment and sales and purchase transactions could be facilitated by the livestock mart.

In a statement this morning, Tuesday, March 31, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said he would issue guidance to marts on “a very limited range of essential services” that comply with Covid-19 guidelines.

“These include measures to facilitate calf sales and the weighing of livestock, and online or brokerage services, and are subject to the approval of standard operating procedures by my department,” the minister explained.