Revised restrictions required for livestock sales – Fitzmaurice

This government needs to revise the Covid-19 restrictions in place for livestock sales, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Having spoken to numerous mart managers around the country and farmers on the ground since the Level 5 lockdown was announced last night, Fitzmaurice noted that farmers are anxious that the weanling trade is going to take a dive as a result of buyers not being allowed around the ring.

On this matter, the representative for the Roscommon-Galway constituency said: “These restrictions could not have come at a worse time for farmers with weanlings to sell.

In a week where advance BPS [Basic Payment Scheme] payments have been hitting farmers’ accounts, trade around mart rings should be on the up. However, the Level 5 lockdown has poured cold water over that.

The TD said that, while Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marin Charlie McConalogue may argue that online sales are still allowed, “it is hardly a fair trade off”.

While the online factor is beneficial to trade in a mart, it cannot replace buyers around the ring, the independent TD stressed.

“Since Covid-19 reared its head earlier this year, I have been inundated with people frustrated with below-par broadband services – mart managers included.

They have had to deal with delayed sales and disgruntled buyers or sellers criticising the system. We are now leading into one of the busiest times of the year for livestock marts.

“While it has been clarified that viewing periods will be allowed, it doesn’t make things easier for older farmers who are unaccustomed to dealing with technology and online bidding.

“Livestock marts had been operating very stringent measures in recent weeks as it was; with only buyers allowed around the ring and social distancing being adhered to – with masks being worn consistently.

“Why this cannot be allowed to continue is beyond me.

Farmers who have cattle or sheep to sell at this time of year need to be able to get the best price possible.

“We cannot allow Level 5 restrictions decimate the trade for livestock in marts,” deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.