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Conor Halpin
Conor Halpin
Journalism intern.
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Reilly on becoming a mart manager during Covid-19 pandemic

As part of this week’s Mart Focus, That’s Farming profiles Jody Reilly, a farmer, owner of Kilcogy Carpentry, and manager at Granard Farmers’ Mart Ltd in County Longford.

Jody Reilly is a 37-year-old, fifth-generation farmer who runs a beef and suckler enterprise in Kilcogy, Mullahoran, Co. Cavan. He is married to Grace, with three children.

“I was working on the farm from a very young age. I attended different marts with my father, and I educated as a child; it is all practical experience,” he told That’s Farming.

In January 2021, Jody took over the managerial role from Charlotte Kearney. Before taking up the position, he managed Kilcogy Carpentry for 15 years, which will resume when Level-5 restrictions ease.

“I have been involved as a manager for a short time. I have been on the board of directors for a few years, and have seen, more or less what is going on for several years.”

From 2002 to 2003, Jody completed a business and management degree programme at Dublin Institute of Technology. In 2008, he undertook his Green Certificate online, followed by a carpentry apprenticeship.

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Mart operations

Today, the Longford-based mart operates a two-ring system. Presently, weanling and suckler cow sales begin at 6:00 pm on Mondays, with cattle, sheep, and dry cows sold at 12:00pm on Wednesday.

Furthermore, the mart will resume its monthly horse sales when Covid-19 restrictions allow.

The mart employs up-to twenty staff, including part-time and full-time staff.

“It is a team effort; we have staff members here from the beginning, and we are open 50 years. It is great to have these people’s experience for someone new like me coming in to give me advice.” the manager of Granard Farmers’ Mart commented.

Each year, the mart takes an entry of more than 20,000 livestock. Its current weekly throughput ranges from 500 to 600 head of cattle.

“The cattle trade is staying very steady and going very well. There is a great demand for cattle; we are working hard to get both cattle and buyers to meet that demand.”

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“The customers are pleased with how they are being treated, and we are getting lots of compliments. We are working very hard to register new buyers throughout Ireland daily.”

Next, Jody prepares for the sale day by overseeing the mart’s Covid-19 protocol; these measures include organising sign-in sheets for customers and reviewing disinfection points.

“The cattle are offloaded in the yard, and farmers have to go home to watch the sale online. Then, with new customers, you have to get farmers registered with the LSL Auctions app, and get the sale up and running.”

“You have to phone each farmer individually to see if they are happy with prices and to thank them for their sale. It is not always simple to get a hold of these people; it is an extra job that we would not have to do usually.”

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Online trading

According to Jody, online mart trading will continue after the Covid-19 pandemic. He noted that virtual marts have provided farmers with a more comprehensive insight into trade nationwide.

“Farmers can check out and compare prices in different marts without attending them. It would surprise you how well farmers get on with the technology.”

“The farmers are all-going-around with their iPads, iPhones and some of these people would not have been able to use technology. There are people buying cattle online from all-around Ireland who would have never bought cattle before.”

“Marts, in general, are proven to be very safe places. I do not know of any Covid-19 outbreaks taking place in any mart.”

“It is a testament to the people working there that they have kept them running the 12 months. It is going through a tough time with Covid-19, but we are coming out the other side.”

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Looking ahead, he wishes to improve the mart by making the intake of cattle in the yard a more efficient process. He looks forward to welcoming customers back to the ringside when circumstances allow.

“Livestock marts are a great day out for farmers selling their cattle. They like to come in and see the sale to compare their cattle to everyone else. I would like to see vaccinations rolled out quickly to get these people back into the livestock marts.”

“The mart is an important outlet for farmers that they do not have to go to the factory or sell privately. It does not suit all farmers, and in Granard, many suckler farmers sell their cattle as weanlings. It is important they have a place to go.”

“I think there will always be a place for marts; we are providing a service to local farmers. The mart is a great day out for farmers. The most satisfying part is that we can provide that service and provide it safely over the past twelve months.” Jody Reilly of Granard Farmers’ Mart concluded.


For more information, visit Granard Farmers’ Mart’s  Facebook here

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