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Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a fifth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the company in 2015.
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‘What is being asked of livestock marts around the country is an impossible task’ – Maurice Brosnan

A mart owner/manager has expressed his concern in relation to online-only mart sales.

Maurice Brosnan, owner/manager of Gortatlea Mart, vented his anger following confirmation from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine that online-only mart sales are to continue under Level 5 restrictions.

On October 25th, a department spokesperson issued a statement, in relation to the matter.

‘An impossible task’

“What is being asked of livestock marts around the country is an impossible task,” Brosnan said.

“The pressure being placed on marts and the measures being forced on them with the subsequent consequences is in no way a reflection on individual marts or individual companies.”

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“They are doing their best to continue to operate some kind of a live trade following government direction and restrictions as a consequence of operating under level 5 requirements.”

“The decision by the government, directed by the powers that be to stop ringside bidding and selling at marts, without due consultation with mart representatives, farm organisations and farmers and obviously showing no knowledge on how the huge importance of a vibrant live trade or the way marts operate, shows complete disregard for our industry.

Effort and expense

He said marts around the country have done everything that has been asked of them regarding the COVID-19 protocols.

A lot of effort and expense, he added, went into making the marts a safe environment for attendees.

“I think it’s time those with the knowledge of how the system works on reality are consulted in how to operate and conduct sales.”

“Farmers are and always will be, the backbone of the Irish economy and the government knows just how vital farming is to this economy. They should treat us as the essential industry that we are.”

Legal action between buyers and sellers

“Many marts still have no online bidding facility in place, for numerous reasons, including poor broadband. There are also the issues of sellers not being contactable when rang to accept the price being offered for their animals.”

“This, will and has already, caused legal action between marts and sellers. Some older buyers simply cannot bid online. They are as such being prevented from making the necessary purchases to maintain their business and way of life.”

“It is next to impossible to run a sale in certain parts of the country with online bidding only. Yet, marts are being forced to do this.”

“Whoever agreed to these terms does not understand how marts operate. Furthermore, they do not have the best interests of marts and farmers at heart.”

“The last thing any livestock farmer wants to see is the day where an online bidding system operating across the country crashes leaving marts at a standstill, and cattle standing in pens for hours.”

Intervention from Minister

Brosnan has called on the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to “stand up now and do the right thing”.

“Give marts back the responsibility of ensuring they are run in a safe manner. Allow them to have a minimum number of buyers around the sales ring to facilitate the trading of livestock.”

“There is no doubting that marts are essential for the trading of livestock and most importantly the production of food. They must continue. I sincerely hope common sense will prevail.”

He hopes the powers that be can initiate a sensible and workable alternative without delay.

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