Livestock marts across Northern Ireland are set to re-open on a “gradual basis” from April 27th, 2020.
The decision, made by the Northern Ireland Livestock and Auctioneers’ Association (NILAA), has been welcomed by the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural (DAERA) affairs.
Marts closed voluntarily on March 23rd in response to Covid-19 health and safety concerns.
Recently, mart operators trialled a number of online sales to enable livestock trading to continue and are now gradually moving towards re-opening on a phased basis from 27 April, with some restrictions in place.
In welcoming the decision, a DAERA spokesperson acknowledged that farmers are key workers and are continuing to provide food in very challenging circumstances.
“Part of that food supply chain is the ability to trade and sell animals.”
“Staff within the Department have maintained regular contact with livestock mart operators over recent weeks and have been reassured that robust operational protocols, developed by the marts in conjunction with other stakeholders, will enable them to conduct business in a manner that is safe for staff, farmers and buyers and adheres to social distancing requirements.
“DAERA, therefore, welcomes the decision to recommence sales of prime stock, cull animals and store stock on a gradual basis from week commencing April 27th.”
“Farmers, like all businesses, are facing financial difficulties as a result of Covid-19. Being able to trade again at the marts will provide much-needed cash flow.” the spokesperson concluded.