Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne has said he is “disappointed” at the lack of intervention in the marts “crisis” by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

Last month (October) a number of marts experienced a delay in online sales due to a technical issue with the service provider.

Deputy Browne said: “I am extremely disappointed at the failure of the agriculture minister to intervene to enable marts to operate in a manner that assists our farmers to carry out their business effectively.

“The agriculture committee agreed to write to the minister asking him to consider allowing a limited number of people, appropriately distanced, into the marts to bid in-person during the period of Level 5 restrictions.

This would enable marts and buyers with poor broadband connectivity to trade more effectively.

“We also suggested that inspection staff be deployed to give the public the necessary reassurances that public health is not compromised by allowing a limited number of people admission to the marts,” the deputy added.

The Sinn Féin TD said that the committee made the case that food production is an essential activity and that this status needs to be reflected in his decision.

“The minister has decided not to intervene in a way that would enable our farmers to carry out their business effectively,” said deputy Browne.

This is another example of how our food producers are seen as less essential to food production than the meat factories.

“Our family farms will continue to lose out as a result.

“I have asked for the minister’s response to the committee’s request to be discussed at the committee’s upcoming meeting,” concluded deputy Browne.

Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that sheep farmers are facing “enormous difficulties” as a result of the current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions at marts.

The association and has called on Minister McConalogue to urgently revisit the matter.