Attention must immediately turn to sheep sales, according to the founder of Ireland’s Future, Gerry Loftus.
He made the call after one of its umbrella groups, the Mart Managers of Ireland (MMI) produced a draft SOP that they feel is “workable for all marts throughout the country” facilitating cattle sales, as reported by us here.
On the back of this, Ireland’s Future is now proposing that similar proposals are implemented to conduct sheep sales in marts.
“The one big difference here is that cattle sales would usually consist of hundreds of entries, but sheep sales from mid-July to early October can consist of thousands of sheep.”
“In order to ensure safety and social distancing, we in Ireland’s Future, feel the only safe method is all sheep would have to be sold through the sales ring.”
“We do not feel social distancing could be applied by selling sheep in pens.”
Loftus acknowledged that this will be a time-consuming process – especially in cases where there are large numbers of sheep on offer.
“If we take an example of a sale of say 3,000-4,000 sheep, we feel it would be an impossible task to put that number of sheep through a sales ring on any one day.”
“We propose that the sale is split into two days – one day to accommodate store and factory lambs and another day to sell breeding and cull ewes.”
Financial support for marts
The organisation stressed that two-days sales will be a “financial burden” on marts, and, is, therefore, calling on Minister Creed to provide financial assistance so that marts can “provide the sheep sector with a sales service”.
It also holds the view that entries for sheep sales must be pre-booked. “We must look long-term and ensure that a protocol that all stakeholders can deal with is applied here as we are going to have to live with Covid-19 for quite some time yet.” Loftus concluded.