A range of protocols are “actively” being discussed between ICOS Co-operative marts and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to try and resume a “limited and strictly enforced” auction process in livestock marts as quickly as the Government will allow.
Ray Doyle, Livestock & Environment Executive of ICOS said, “We have been working with senior DAFM officials for some time and have taken detailed legal and public health advice to put forward a workable protocol to protect communities from Covid-19, in line with the necessity to maintain and evaluate the true value of livestock via a competitive auction process.”
If the initiative was to proceed, stringent measures are being proposed that would be strictly enforced to ensure a “limited and tightly controlled” attendance of buyers and sellers.
“They would attend by appointment only and social distancing would be rigorously adhered to during the process.”
General visitors, members of the public or other farmers would not be allowed to enter marts under any circumstances while Covid-19 measures are in place, ICOS added.
Approval Ray Doyle stressed that the outcome of any such discussions with DAFM would be subject to onward consideration and approval by the health authorities.
“That is as it should be. We welcome our ongoing engagement with the Department of Agriculture who are keen to support rural communities in every way possible while ensuring compliance with all necessary health restrictions.”
This proposed adjustment, Doyle added, is designed to ensure animal welfare, to maintain the supply chain, to ensure continuity in the national herd.
He said another aim would be to avoid “any glut in the trade of animals” while also allowing for essential economic activity to take place, while foremost in discussions is not to add to the spread of Covid-19.
Some of the points being discussed include:
- All potential sellers must contact their local mart and advise mart staff of the type, breed, age, approximate weight and any other details of the livestock to be sold. Farmers cannot simply turn up with livestock to sell;
- The mart staff will subsequently contact these sellers with a defined time and date for delivery of livestock to the mart for sale;
- Sellers will be advised of the approximate selling time of their animals and any details such as weights, etc. and can advise the mart staff of a minimum advised price, sell them on the market or have the mart contact them via mobile phone at point of sale to accept the highest bid or not;
- All buyers must first pre-register with the mart to attend any sales.
- No members of the general public are allowed into mart premises. Persons other than mart staff must have permission to attend with a specific allotted time to gain access. Entry/exit to mart will be strictly controlled by mart staff at the main entrance point;