‘Urgent change of mind needed’ – ICSA on mart ‘chaos’

Following news this morning (Saturday, October 24) of online problems that resulted in mart sales being cancelled and cattle sent home, farm organisations have been quick to flag up issues with ‘Level 5′ Covid-19 restrictions on marts.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that the “chaos” that ensued in 17 livestock marts due to the collapse of the online bidding system “means there needs to be an urgent change of mind on how marts operate” under Level 5.

Edmund Graham, the association’s beef chairperson, said: “The chaos witnessed today with both farmers and animals stressed out from hanging around at marts is indefensible.

Farmers with stock to sell had to wait around not knowing if their stock could be sold. It is clear that exclusive dependence on an online system is not tenable.

“It is not acceptable that people who need to sell livestock to pay bills are discommoded to this extent. Equally there are people who need to buy livestock to ensure their business continues,” Graham highlighted.

The ICSA beef chairperson continued: “We have all seen the video this week of the despair and trauma of a mart manager in Kenmare and this is a reflection of what is being felt around the country. Agriculture is an essential business and ICSA cannot accept that marts be left high and dry with the obvious limitations of dependency on broadband.

There are thousands of workers who continue to congregate in all sorts of industry and factories and it is not acceptable that marts are not treated the same. This is the most important time of year for the mart trade and I am calling on Minister Charlie McConalogue to urgently address this.

“If people are allowed to buy meat in a supermarket, farmers must be able to buy and sell livestock in a mart,” Graham argued.

Meanwhile, ICSA suckler chairperson Ger O’Brien called for flexibility with targets under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) due to the disruption to normal livestock trading.

“In addition to the normal trading patterns, there are people who need a fully functioning mart system to buy animals to meet the requirements of the BDGP system, in regard to having 4/5 star replacement females in the herd on October 31,” O’Brien noted.