The “chaos” at 17 livestock marts today (Saturday, October 24th) 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 of Covid restrictions.
That is the view of ICSA beef chairman, Edmund Graham who said: “The chaos witnessed today with both farmers and animals stressed out of it 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.”
Graham said that even if the system did not collapse, the farm group has repeatedly tried to highlight that lots of people in rural Ireland do not have access to reliable broadband.
“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 can continue.”
Despair and trauma
“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 need to 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, Graham added.
“This is the most important time of year for the mart trade and I am calling on Minister McConalogue to urgently address this.”
“It is quite clear that NPHET has no understanding whatsoever of how agriculture works but it is the case that food production has been deemed essential.”
“If people are allowed to buy meat in a supermarket, farmers must be able to buy and sell livestock in a mart.”
ICSA suckler chair, Ger O’Brien, has called for flexibility with BDGP targets, because normal livestock trading has been “thrown into chaos”.
“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 31st.”
“ICSA is calling for a degree of flexibility for farmers who do not have the animals in place on this date due to the obvious barriers caused by the mart chaos and the difficulties buying animals in without live auctions.”