‘The only aspect of food production shut down is the one where farmers have control’

“The only aspect of food production that has been shut down is the one where farmers themselves have control,” according to Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy.

Addressing concerns that have been raised about the Level 5 restrictions on marts, deputy Carthy said the government decided “at the onset of this pandemic and, rightly so, that food production would remain an essential service and area of work that would continue”.

The deputy said:

“We have seen that in some areas – the meat factories have continued operating. Despite outbreaks in the factories, they have continued operating; notwithstanding the issues that have arisen in respect of their treatment of workers or otherwise.

The only aspect of food production that has been shut down is the one where farmers themselves have control, namely, the marts.

“We heard [government members] say that the marts need to be open. They are in government, so they should make sure that whatever safety measures and regulations that need to be put in place are put in place so that we can allow farmers to try to make a living during these times.”

In regards to meat factories, the Minister of State at the Department of Health Anne Rabbitte said that last week, there were “just three new outbreaks in meat plants”.

Livestock mart sales will continue using online-only platforms

However, as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine confirmed on the weekend, “in the interest of protecting those in the agri-sector and wider rural communities from the spread of Covid-19, and in line with public health guidelines, livestock mart sales will continue using online-only platforms”.

Also Read: Department: Livestock marts to continue with online-only sales

“Like many countries, Ireland is in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic,” a department statement said.

“The strict public health measures adopted by government are absolutely necessary to protect people’s health. This has been difficult for people across many sectors, including agriculture.

“The department has worked closely with stakeholders to protect agri-food supply chains, notwithstanding the strict controls in place. This means that business cannot be conducted in the usual way.

Against that background, online mart sales systems have operated in Ireland since early April and hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep have been bought and sold successfully using the various online platforms now available.

On Saturday, one of the three main online systems used by marts had a problem that led to a delay in mart sales in 16 mart centres, the authority noted.

“The problem was resolved after approximately two hours and sales were able to resume. 26 of some 30 mart sales that took place across the country on Saturday completed their sales, while four marts were reported as having cancelled.”