ICOS has requested the Government to bring about as speedy a return as possible of a ringside attendance by buyers and sellers at marts, augmented by online systems.
The national co-operative marts body said that this can be managed under all necessary public health and operating guidelines including face coverings and social distancing requirements, which the marts had implemented effectively to date.
ICOS Livestock and Environmental Services Executive, Ray Doyle said, “This is particularly important as it’s essential for a successful trade in suckler-bred weanlings to take place in the interests of animal welfare and progression of the national herd.”
“In spite of the onerous restrictions that are currently in place, and some technical difficulties that have arisen, the marts are proving their metal and staying resilient.”
Just shy of 31,000 animals traded through marts
DAFM statistics indicate that, as of the weekend just gone (across Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday), just shy of 31,000 animals have been traded through marts to date.
This, Doyle added, in spite of four marts having to abandon sales on Saturday due to a software problem which has now been rectified.
The remaining marts completed their sales two hours after the software problem was fixed. The same time last year, this figure was 36,000 animals traded, Doyle added.
“Since the first lockdown, when effectively the sector was shut completely and only had a limited tendering system in place to facilitate trade, we are only back 9.6% overall YTD – at 1.275M cattle as opposed to 1.4M last year.”
“However, when you analyse the trading pattern of the last 3 months, in particular, August was up 43%, September up 20% and October up 6.7% up to the 25th of the month and it’s not finished yet.”
Over 75% of mart centres have an online bidding service
“The resilience of the sector must be commended. Since last Wednesday (21st), over 75% of mart centres have online bidding in place.”
The well-publicised technology problem of last Saturday showed that over 30,000 farmers are online with LSL.
He said a further 10,000 with the 2 other providers, showing that over 40,000 farmers are embracing the new technology and method of sales.
Blend on in-person and online bidding
“Let’s not forget that the restrictions were imposed by Government with the national COVID-19 crisis in mind.”
“Of course, we are aware of all the problems and there are many, including broadband connectivity, the speed of these connections as well as the software glitch which took place and which is now fixed.”
“I don’t underestimate the real difficulties, frustrations and financial costs of all this but collectively, as a sector, we are prevailing and must continue to do so.”
“ICOS wants to see as quick a return as possible to the blend of ringside attendance and online trade as much as anyone but that decision is currently not ours to make.”
“We can, however, work with and improve what we already have in place and this is what we are doing while ensuring to communicate the real and present concerns of our sector to Government,” Doyle concluded